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Court Finds ex-Defense Minister Guilty of ‘Organizing’ Torture, Sexual Abuse

The Tbilisi City Court found Bacho Akhalaia, ex-defense minister and former chief of the prison system, guilty of organizing torture and sexual abuse of retired colonel Sergo Tetradze, and sentenced him to nine years in prison.

According to the prosecutor’s office, in September 2011, then Defense Minister Akhalaia “organized” torture of several men, as well as “sexual abuse” of a detainee to obtain false confessions about being Russian spies. 

One of the victims, according to prosecutor’s office, was retired colonel Sergo Tetradze, who died as a result of heart failure that followed torture and sexual abuse while in custody.

The Tbilisi City Court said in its statement yesterday that Bacho Akhalaia “directly organized and took part in beating, torturing and humiliating several employees of the military police department.”

Speaking at a press briefing later on April 23, the spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office said Akhalaia was initially sentenced to 12 years in prison, but due to the amnesty law, his sentence was reduced to nine years.

Nikoloz Dzimtseishvili, former deputy defense minister under Akhalaia, was found guilty as well, and was sentenced to four years in prison. 

Several senior officials of the prison system have already been convicted in connection with the same case, according to the chief prosecutor’s office.

Bacho Akhalaia, who did not attend the trial yesterday, released a brief statement on Facebook, condemning the court ruling as “insulting,” and accusing the judges of acting upon orders. 

The former defense minister has also been sentenced in multiple other criminal cases.

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