TBILISI, DFWatch — Tbilisi City Court Saturday sentenced former Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili in absentia to preliminary detention. Both his Georgian passport and diplomatic passport have been suspended.
He left Georgia after the National Movement’s election defeat in October, 2012 and his current whereabouts are unknown.
According to the Interior Ministry, Adeishvili crossed the border on October 2, 2012 at Tbilisi Airport, using his diplomatic passport. He has not returned since. At the moment he left he was still justice minister.
His wife and children left Georgia on November 19 and they too have not returned since. Adeishvili has broken off all contact with the country. The house registered in his name in Tbilisi is locked. Even his father says he doesn’t know where the former minister is.
An investigation was launched two weeks ago, looking into suspicion of abuse of powers. December 28, he was charged in absentia. The Prosecutor’s Office believes there is evidence that he ordered prison staff to mistreat prisoners.
Saturday, Prosecutor’s Office asked Tbilisi City Court to sentence the former minister to preliminary detention as well as suspend his many passports.
After the parliament election in October, 2012, President Mikheil Saakashvili decided to let former government officials continued to use diplomatic passports for one more year.
Adeishvili has made use of this new right. There are issued three diplomatic passports in his name and all of them were valid until now. Diplomatic passports give him the right to move to other countries through simplified procedures and privileges at customs and border control.
“According to the Public Registry, Zurab Adeishvili doesn’t officially own real estate assets. Considering that Zurab Adeishvili took his wife and children from Georgia and their location is unknown, we can assume that Zurab Adeishvili doesn’t have motivation to be in, or return back to Georgia,” a statement by the Prosecutor’s Office reads.
On this background, the prosecutor has asked the court to suspend all the suspect’s passports. Tbilisi City Court agreed, but Adeishvili’s lawyer plans to appeal the decision.
Meanwhile, Georgian media are reporting that the former minister has applied for political asylum in Belgium and received it, and that Belgian authorities have given him a house to live in. In addition, he has received guarantees that he won’t be in danger of extradition to Georgia regardless of what type of accusations and charges are brought against him. According to these reports, Adeishvili will also lecture at one of the universities in Belgium.
His lawyer Gocha Svanadze told DF Watch that he doesn’t know anything about this. The Foreign Affairs Ministry is also not familiar with this information about Belgium granting the former minister political asylum.