The Tbilisi City Court granted a GEL 5,000 bail to Levan Shonia, former governor of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti Region, who is accused of taking an illegal gift in the amount of USD 10,000.
According to Iza Kalatozishvili, Shonia’s lawyer, the ex-governor does not plead guilty, and claims that the money handed over to the former official was used for charitable purposes.
In his press remarks after the court hearing, Prosecutor Beka Ezhishvili said, citing the case materials obtained during the investigation process, that Shonia accepted the money “as a gift, and not in exchange for [providing] specific services.”
Charges against the former governor were filed within the ongoing corruption investigation, launched in September 2018 and involving the municipal office of Zugdidi, the administrative center of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region.
As part of the probe, two local officials – the former Zugdidi Mayor, Lasha Gogia, and his deputy, Gia Gulordava – were arrested on November 1. Two more municipality employees were apprehended on December 24, on charges of giving false testimony and failure to report the crime.
It is yet unclear whether Shonia had any role in the core, corruption case.