TBILISI, DFWatch–Tbilisi City Court on Saturday held pretrial hearing in two of the five criminal cases currently brought against former defense minister Bacho Akhalaia to decide on preventive measures before the trial.
For the third time, Akhalaia was given pretrial detention as his lawyers unsuccessfully asked for his release on bail.
A few days ago, the Prosecutor’s Office presented a fourth charge against Akhalaia, a close Saakashvili ally and former government minister who has headed the Prison Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the Interior Ministry at various times.
The charge concerns abuse of powers in connection with a prison riot in 2006.
On Saturday, the city court went through the fifth charge against Akhalaia, about exceeding his powers. In this case, the defendant’s lawyers asked to release the accused on bail, but the court decided to continue keeping him in pretrial detention.
In the second half of the day, another ruling was made to keep the defendant in pretrial detention in the prison riot case.
“It is totally unclear to me why they sentence him to detention so many times, as this is the fourth preventive measure,” his lawyer Malkhaz Velinjashvili told journalists after having heard the ruling. “They probably want to put a third lock on his cell.”
He says his client doesn’t admit guilt in any of the five cases.
Akhalaia said during Saturday’s hearing that pretrial detention interrupts the defense in finding evidence which would prove his innocence.
“It is important that I have the opportunity to prepare questions for witnesses, which is impossible to do in prison,” he said.