bacho akhalaia - tbilisi city court - 2013-02-20

Bacho Akhalaia in Tbilisi City Court Feb. 20, 2013. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–A trial drawing great public attention against former government officials was again rescheduled for February 28 by Tbilisi City Court on Wednesday.

Tbilisi City Court held pretrial hearing for Bacho Akhalaia, a Saakashvili loyalist and former minister of defense and internal affairs; Giorgi Kalandadze, former chairman of the joint military staff; and Zurab Chamatava, former chair of the Fourth Brigade, as well as five others who are accused together with them.

The prosecutor today presented protocols for witnesses containing about 200 victims and witnesses.

None of the officials on trial admitted guilt.

The next hearing was set for February 28, when the court will review what evidence to admit in the coming trial.

On Wednesday, the lawyer for Bacho Akhalaia appealed to the judge to allow audio and video recording of the hearing. Despite resistance from prosecutors, the judge allowed a few minutes of audio and video recording, and full audio recording of the process.

People there to follow the trial greeted Bacho Akhalaia with applause. Due to the large number of people wishing to attend the hearing, it was held in the large hall.

Before the hearing, there was a demonstration outside the court building in support of the former government official, claiming that Akhalaia is a political prisoner. Protesters moved to the hall to attend the hearing, including Bacho Akhalaia’s wife.

The three officials are accused of abuse of powers, while Akhalaia is also accused of illegal deprivation of liberty, and torture. They were detained on November 7, 2012. Kalandadze and Shamatava were released on bail, while the former minister remains in jail.

The Prosecutor’s Office argues that the other accused were involved in illegal actions together with former officials.