TBILISI, DFWatch — The Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia has questioned the wife of the former interior minister regarding a case of beating of policemen.
This is a case in which former officials in the Interior Ministry have been charged.
Tako Salakaia, wife of Vano Merabishvili, long time Interior Minister and Prime Minister, was questioned on Saturday as a witness.
Salakaia did not answer questions posed to her by journalists after her interrogation, but her lawyer Gogita Gabaidze noted that there were certain questions, which were given certain answers, but he didn’t specify which case his client was questioned in connection with.
However, before the interrogation, it became known that she was called in for questioning regarding an incident which took place in 2005.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, former interior ministry employees physically abused an employee of the same ministry, because they thought this was a person who assaulted the wife of the interior minister at a restaurant in Tbilisi. But when they beat him, they discovered that they had beaten another person by mistake.
Data Akhalaia, former head of the domestic intelligence service, the Constitutional Security Department, Geronti Alania, Ioseb Topuridze and Oleg Melnikov, all former ministry employees, were charged December 2, 2012 in this case. Tbilisi City Court sentenced them to preliminary detention. Afterward, an international search warrant was issued to find those persons, as they are missing in Georgia. They left after the parliamentary election on October 1, 2012, which saw a surprise defeat for Saakashvili’s National Movement party.
December 7, Oleg Melnikov was detained in Ukraine and was sentenced to 40 days detention. All documents necessary for his extradition have been sent to Ukraine.
Tako Salakaia is also involved in the case of Sandro Girvliani’s murder, but she hasn’t been questioned regarding this case yet.
Sandro Girgvliani, 28, was discovered dead January 28, 2006 in a suburb of Tbilisi with multiple injuries, which were the result of physical violence. This is one of the most controversial criminal cases in recent Georgian history, particularly because the wife of then Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili was involved, as well as the officials already mentioned.
The Girgvliani murder led to criticism of the government, especially against the interior ministry, and led to society seriously questioning the independence of the courts and the reforms conducted by the government. Despite demands from thepublic, President Saakashvili didn’t consider the responsibility of the Interior Ministry or other people involved in the murder, but they were instead allowed to continue in their posts.
The mother and grandfather of the victim tried for years to get justice, but both died without ever making it to court. None of the family of Sandro Girgvliani is alive today.
The European Court of Human Rights on April 26, 2011, sentenced the Georgian government to pay 50 000 euro for moral damage. The court remarked that it was astonished at how the local courts and the prosecutor’s office had tried to define the conditions of the case. Summing up its judgment of the quality of the investigation into the murder, the court said it lacked “independence, impartiality, objectivity and thoroughness”.