Suspected Accomplices in Saakashvili Border Crossing Case Free on Bail

The Tbilisi City Court today released four suspected accomplices involved in the illegal border crossing case of jailed ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili on bail of GEL 5,000 (USD 1,600) each.

Prosecutor in the case, Levan Vepkhvadze said the defendants did not challenge evidence provided by the prosecution and applied to the Court to replace the pre-trial measure from detention to release on bail.

He noted pre-trial detention of the four suspects was no longer necessary as the new development ruled out the risk of the defendants possibly destroying evidence or pressuring witnesses.

The defendants are facing charges under Article 375 (2) of the Criminal Code, involving concealment of a serious crime without prior promise and envisaging imprisonment for up to four years. One of the suspects, Elguja Tsomaia is additionally charged Article 344.1, involving illegal transfer of a migrant across the border, envisaging a prison term of two to five years.

According to the investigation, a Tsomaia transported Saakashvili from Poti port through customs clearance and later provided his flat for the ex-President to hide in Tbilisi. The prosecution argues Shalva and Zurab Tsotsoria assisted Saakashvili in traveling in Georgia’s Samegrelo region, while Giorgi Narimanidze accompanied the ex-President en route to Tbilisi together with Tsomiaia.

Police detained Tsomaia on October 1, Shalva and Zurab Tsotsoria on October 3 and Narimanidze on October 20.

Besides the fourth, the Prosecutor’s Office launched on December 10 criminal proceedings against UNM-era Deputy Interior Minister Giorgi Lortkipanidze, currently a citizen of Ukraine. He was the one to arrange Saakashvili’s illegal border crossing, according to the prosecution.

Mikheil Saakashvili, who arrived in Georgia from exile in Ukraine on the night of September 28-29, was detained on October 1, on the eve of local elections. He had been convicted in absentia by three instances of Georgian courts and sentenced to six years in jail, including three years over pardoning police officials implicated in high-profile Sandro Girgvliani murder case and six years over organizing an attack on opposition MP Valeri Gelashvili.

Besides Saakashvili stands trial for illegal border crossing as well as of misspending some GEL 9 million, exceeding official authority during the November 7, 2007 crackdown on anti-government protests and subsequent events. He denies any charges against him as politically motivated.

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


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