TBILISI, DFWatch–A verdict in one Georgia’s most controversial murder cases is expected two weeks from now, with a former interior minister as one of the defendants.
The defense made its closing remarks in Tbilisi City Court Wednesday in the trial about the murder of Sandro Girgvliani in 2006, and judge Davit Mgeliashvili is expected to announce the final verdict in about two weeks, according to the prosecution.
As dfwatch.net had reported before, the 28-year old bank employee was abducted and murdered after a conflict at one café in Tbilisi during a party held by an Interior Ministry official. His body was found on January 28, 2006, with multiple injuries.
The former government received strong criticism for its investigation of the case. The European Court of Human Rights in 2011 stated that all branches of the state had cooperated to prevent justice from being done.
None of those higher officials involved were investigated, but four police officers were found guilty. One of them was sentenced to eight years, and others to seven years in prison. However, all four of them had their sentences halved by a presidential pardon, and were finally released in September 2009.
After the change of government in 2012, the case was reopened. According to prosecutor Irakli Nadareishvili, more than 80 witnesses have been questioned for the prosecutor’s side. There were three witnesses for the defense side, but two of them were removed from the case because they attended court sessions, which is against the rules.
Among the people charged are several of former President Mikheil Saakashvili’s close allies: former Minister of Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili, who is currently in prison, and Data Akhalaia, former head of Kudi, or the Constitutional Security Department, a branch of the MIA with almost unrestrained power. The latter is currently in Greece.
Also on trial is a former official in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Oleg Melnikov, who pleaded guilty in August.