Georgia’s Wanted Ex-Army Chief Detained in Germany

Former Chief of Joint Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces Giorgi Kalandadze, wanted by Georgian authorities on charges of unlawful confinement and torture, was detained on December 19 in Germany. The Prosecutor’s office said today they will ask the German authorities for his extradition.

Kalandadze, a United National Movement-era defense official, was appointed as the Chief of Joint Staff on October 8, 2012, by then-President Mikheil Saakashvili, a week after the Georgian Dream won in the parliamentary elections. Before that Kalandadze had served as the Deputy Chief of Staff since 2010.

The Prosecutor’s Office said Kalandadze stands accused of plotting and torturing in July 2012 a man – identified only with his initials – E.K. – to obtain a forced confession for an organization of a terrorist act. 

Besides Kalandadze, the prosecution said other former security officials – former Deputy Defense Minister David Akhalaia and former Military Police Chief Megis Kardava, as well as Roman Shamatava, Interior Ministry’s now-defunct Department of Constitutional Security are charged in the case.

The accused former officials, the Prosecution said, tasked the kidnapping of the man to the officers of Interior Ministry’s Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti regional division, who captured him on July 28 in Zugdidi and transported him handcuffed to the administrative building of the Military Police Department in Tbilisi.

The prosecution maintains Kalandaze, Akhalaia, Kardava and Shamatava tortured the man for several hours on July 29, rendering him unconscious and leaving him, for several days, without providing medical assistance. 

Kalandadze is facing charges, first filed by the prosecution in 2015, for violating two articles of the Georgian Criminal Code, namely Article 143 – unlawful confinement – and Article 144’1 – torture. If found guilty, Kalandaze will face 12-17 years in prison.

Kalandadze, currently a citizen of Ukraine, was apprehended in a Berlin airport. According to a Rustavi 2 report, he was visiting his child in Germany.

Opposition concerned

Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, currently recovering in the Gori Military Hospital following his 50-day hunger strike, linked Kalandadze’s detention to his military background. Saakashvili said Kalandadze was a hero of the 2008 Russo-Georgian war and also participated in military activities on Ukraine’s eastern front with Russia.

“As far as I know general Kalandadze is a citizen of Ukraine and he also holds a position in Ukraine’s National Guard,” Saakashvili stated. “It is a shame that the Georgian Government is causing problems for Russia’s main enemies around the world.”

Gigi Tsereteli of the European Georgia party dubbed the development a “strange story.” He argued the detention of Kalandadze, a Ukrainian citizen, amid the country’s “very strained relations” with Russia “seems to put it mildly, odd.”

Previous charges against Kalandadze

Kalandadze, along with other UNM-era officials, stood trial in several other cases, charged with illegal confinement and exceeding official authority.

He was acquitted by Tbilisi City Court in August 2013, but the Court of Appeals partly overruled the decision, finding him guilty of “insulting” his subordinates at the Vaziani military base in October 2011 when he was deputy chief of army staff.

The Appellate Court ruled that Kalandadze should be banned from holding official posts for three months, a punishment the man was exempted from by an amnesty act of December 2012.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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