TBILISI, DFWatch–Law enforcers are considering another charge against former Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia and want to question him about the murder of Sandro Girgvliani in 2006.
Tbilisi Prosecutor Maya Mtsariashvili told journalists that in the course of the investigation of the controversial case, it has become necessary to question Akhalaia, but she cannot say whether there are grounds to charge him.
Bacho Akhalaia served as prison minister, defense and interior minister in Saakashvili’s various governments, but after the change of power last year, he was detained and handed a series charges. He was recently acquitted for some of them, but is still in detention awaiting final verdict.
Mtsariashvili says Akhalaia will be questioned soon and if his participation in the case is confirmed, the Prosecutor’s Office will publish all details.
Akhalaia’s lawyer says it is not a problem if his client is questioned as witness, but if the Prosecutor’s Office levels additional charges, lawyers will appeal it in court.
Sandro Girgvliani, a bank employee, was murdered in 2006 after a scuffle at a cafe in Tbilisi where several Interior Ministry officials were present.
Those who were convicted of the murder were soon released, and while in prison, were kept under advantageous conditions.
The new government reopened the case and introduced charges against former government officials.
A few days ago, priest Nikoloz Tabaghua, who was previously head of Avchala prison colony, stated that the Prosecutor’s Office forced him to give false testimony that Bacho Akhalaia instructed him to place those who were convicted of the murder in advantageous conditions.
During the investigation, the Prosecutor’s Office gained several pieces of evidence that those prisoners really had special conditions, such as being allowed to leave prison from time to time, and visit work places.
Tabaghua was August 13 questioned once more about the time when he was head of the prison where the people arrested for Girgvliani’s murder were serving their sentence.
Tabaghua claims that he was questioned for 12 hours and was forced to confirm ‘things that would harm Bacho Akhalaia’.
“If they couldn’t get confirmed those things which they wanted, then they would arrest our former employees, seven of them, including me,” he says in a video appeal which his family posted after his questioning.
The Prosecutor’s Office responded saying that general inspection will study the case and will publish details, even though Tabaghua doesn’t say how he was pressured and what exactly he had to describe.
The office confirms that in 2006-2011, Tabaghua, whose first name then was Temur, was head of Prison No 10, where the four convicted of the Girgvliani murder served their sentence. Alania, Ghachava, Bibiluridze and Aptsiauri had the opportunity to leave their cells, go home, go to their work places, hold ‘parties’ at their rooms, drink alcohol and receive sexual services.
The Prosecutor’s Office says Tabaghua was questioned about this several times and last time he was questioned was August 13, but that he didn’t say anything new during the last questioning, and other witnesses and evidence prove the fact that those prisoners were really privileged.