The Chief Prosecutor’s Office called a briefing on October 17 to report that Giorgi Merebashvili, a former senior official of the Interior Ministry’s Department of Constitutional Security (DCS, disbanded in 2012) has been arrested and two other former DCS officials, Levan Kardava and Revaz Shiukashvili, who are already convicted in other unrelated cases, have been charged with planning to assassinate Georgian tycoon, Badri Patarkatsishvili under aggravating circumstances in 2007.
Two covert audio files, seized according to Prosecutor Koka Katsitadze in 2016 during the search of the apartment of the suspects, were played at the press briefing. These files were reportedly recorded on February 4-5, 2007 and in prosecutor’s words, contain interlocutors discussing “the issue of preparing the liquidation of a specific person”.
The prosecutor’s office claimed that in one of the audio files, dated February 4, 2007, Giorgi Dgebuadze, former senior DCS official is trying to recruit a member of Patarkatsishvili’s security guard.
Another recording dated February 5, 2007, reportedly features a working meeting at the DCS headquarters, with Giorgi Dgebuadze, Levan Kardava, Revaz Shiukashvili and Giorgi Merebashvili, “plotting Badri Patarkatsishvili’s assassination, in order to eliminate him from politics.”
According to the prosecutor’s office, witness testimonies and written evidence obtained since, have proven that Patarkatsishvili’s route of movement, including at the airports, was under constant surveillance by DCS.
“According to the conversation, all issues, including relevant methods of Patarkatsishvili’s liquidation are being agreed with the then head of DCS, Data Akhalaia,” the Prosecutor’s office said.
Prosecutor Katsitadze explained, that charges were not brought until now because tens of case files needed relevant investigation and engagement of technical expertise. The prosecutor’s office said that the investigation continues to identity other accomplices to the crime.
Giorgi Dgebuadze, a former DCS official, was arrested in Netherlands in 2016 in connection with other, unrelated charges and extradited to Georgia.
Badri Patarkatsishvili, 52, Russian tycoon of Georgian origin was found dead in his house outside London on February 13, 2008. Police inquiry detected no foul play, saying Patarkatsishvili died of coronary failure, while the family had said they “trusted” the integrity of the original police investigation.
Patarkatsishvili, who was wanted in Russia, has been a financial force in Georgia’s politics since 2001. After having initially supported the 2003 “Rose Revolution” he has diverged sharply with President Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration from 2006, launched and financed anti-governmental rallies organized by the opposition in 2007. These events were widely reported and promoted by Imedi TV, which Patarkhatsishvili has founded.
After the violent crackdown on one of such protests and the forced closure of Imedi TV on November 7, 2007, the Georgian General Prosecutor’s Office charged Patarkatsishvili with an attempted coup. Covertly recorded conversation with the Georgian Interior Ministry official was the key evidence. He was subsequently tried in absentia and remanded in custody, while his assets, including Imedi TV were frozen. His defense claimed that the charges were politically motivated.
Patarkatsishvili has challenged Saakashvili in January 2008 presidential elections, but pulled out after the charges were brought against him a day before the vote. Formally though, he stayed on the ballot and garnered 7.1% of votes, finishing third.
For more details, about Patarkatsishvili’s path, please refer to Civil.ge’s 2007 article.