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Former Official Accuses Policeman of Abuse, Goes Missing

Former Deputy Head of National Environmental Agency, economist Ramaz Gerliani was reported missing on December 19 after he accused a police officer of abuse.

The Interior Ministry confirmed to Civil.ge today it is probing the man’s disappearance under Article 143 – Unlawful imprisonment – of the Criminal Code of Georgia. 

Ramaz Gerliani, President of Economic Transformation Center, a nonprofit, published a post on Facebook on December 19, alleging that a policeman he identified as Giorgi Gogniashvili, questioned him on November 14 under “false motive” at his own house. The post has since been removed.

Gerliani claimed the police officer, armed, entered his home by “recruiting” a former member of his family, supposedly referring to his ex-wife. According to a Formula TV report, the encounter happened at an apartment where Gerliani’s former spouse and children lived after the divorce.

“I am disgraced, disrespected and my dignity violated… Every breath I take has tortured me for over a month,” Gerliani wrote in the post. 

He expressed suspicion that the policeman was collecting personal information on him and his family members using “the police system and other means.”

“It cannot be ruled out that he used surveillance, eavesdropping, and other control systems against me,” Gerliani claimed. He did not specify what type of information the officer sought to obtain, however.

Gerliani suspected the police officer was either tasked or hired to do the job, adding he had “reasonable doubt” that the officer was handing over or selling the information on him to third parties.

The former official said he filed a report to an investigative department of the State Inspector, a body authorized to monitor personal data protection and probe abuse of power. But he noted that the agency turned down the case.

Gerliani added that he also filed the case with Interior Ministry’s General Inspection, overseeing its employee’s compliance with the law, adding it did not follow up on taking any specific measures.

The former official highlighted that he also filed a report to the police – at the 7th Nadzaladevi Unit. Yet, the case according to him was moving at a “sluggish” pace, even though he had applied “35 days ago.” Civil.ge asked the Interior Ministry for comments about the probe, and will publish the remarks if provided.

On December 20, Gerliani’s family members found his car – unlocked, with his personal documents and items – parked in front of the Avchala police department. A letter, left on the car’s seat, said the police would hopefully find wiretapping devices in the vehicle. TV Formula reported that the police informed Gerliani’s family he was the one to drive the vehicle to the police building.

Today the police also searched his office. Gerliani’s co-worker and a close acquaintance, Nodar Sirbiladze told reporters that the police found Gerliani’s phone and another letter. According to him, Gerliani writes in the letter that he is “tired” and says he loves his children.

Sirbiladze noted the phone, found on his desk, had a password written on it with a marker, giving the police access to it. He expressed confidence that Gerliani “deliberately did this so that relevant agencies could see the information there.”

He noted that Gerliani mentioned that he had recorded the first encounter with the policeman.

Romanoz Gerliani, the brother of the missing man, argued today the probe into the person’s disappearance is intransparent and claimed the investigative activities are only pro-forma.

He also raised doubts that the Interior Ministry is drawing out the investigation into the developments, suspecting that higher-ups are trying to protect the police officer.

“We do not even know if this policeman was questioned, or if he is being investigated, or if he has been dismissed from his job,” Gerliani stressed, adding “at least the journalists, or us, should have this information.”

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

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