TBILISI, DFWatch–Tbilisi City Court on Friday acquitted a close ally of former president Saakashviili for abuse of powers while serving as a chief prosecutor of a region in the west of Georgia.
Parliament member Roland Akhalaia used to be chief prosecutor of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, which used to be a stronghold of the former governing National Movement.
He is father of two of Saakashvili’s closest allies, Bacho and Data Akhalaia, who had an iron grip on the country’s defense and law enforcement structures, and were charged almost a year ago for things that took place in 2009.
Investigators claimed that about USD 90,000 was involved in this case. He was believed to have forced people to transfer money into a charity fund for construction a residence for the Georgian Patriarch, the leader of the powerful Georgian Church.
On Friday, Tbilisi City Court acquitted him and ruled that the 10,000 laris (about USD 5,000) in bail money which Akhalaia paid will be compensated, and if he sues he will receive compensation for moral damages.
Roland Akhalaia won the election in Zugdidi as a majoritarian candidate for parliament in the elections in October 2012. He ran against Irakli Alasania, the former defense minister.
During the rule of the previous government he served as a chief prosecutor in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, which consists of historical province of Samegrelo, where the UNM has been enjoying vast popular support, and Zemo Svaneti, a mountainous and picturesque area that is among the most important tourist destinations in the South Caucasus.
His son Bacho Akhalaia used to be defense minister and previously served as minister of penitentiary and minister of internal affairs, but is now in detention facing a number of criminal charges.
His other son Data was head of the Constitutional Security Department, or ‘Kudi’, the most feared body of the nterior Ministry during Saakashvili. Data Akhalaia left the country after the 2012 parliamentary election. He was charged in absentia for criminal violations and is wanted by Interpol.
Investigators claimed that Akhalaia extorted money from people, but the judge on Friday said witness testimonies did not prove his guilt, as the alleged victims said they never felt pressured and were not forced to give away the money.