TBILISI, DFWatch — A former Interior Ministry official has been sentenced to pre-trial detention in absentia.

Data Akhalaia, former chair of the feared Constitutional Security Department of the Interior Ministry, is charged, together with Soso Topuridze and Geronti Alania, of abuse of powers, specifically for beating policemen. Data Akhalaia has an additional charge of illegal deprivation of liberty.

None of the accused are in the country. Their location has been unknown since the election results became known October 1, 2012.

The prosecutor’s office asked the court to sentence them to preliminary detention. The court granted this request. Defense lawyers requested not to sentence them to detention, as they consider that there were made mistakes during the process of working out the charges.

Lawyers for Data Akhalaia consider the charges groundless and say it is clearly political persecution.

The first court hearing is scheduled for January 16, 2013.