TBILISI, DFWatch — A strongman from the former government, associated with most of the torture cases in the prisons, was Tuesday night detained after four hours of interrogation at the prosecutor’s office.

Bacho Akhalaia, a firm Saakashvili loyalist and former government official, was Tuesday evening called to the prosecutor’s office for interrogation as a witness at 20:30. About four hours of questioning, he was taken from the prosecutor’s office by car to an unknown location.

Davit Dekanoidze, his lawyer, made a short comment to journalists saying that the former interior minister is accused of exceeding his authority, but no further details are known.

An investigation has been launched under article 332 of the Criminal Code, which is about abusing official position. It is punishable with from three to five years in jail, or depriving position for three years. The second part of the article foresees punishment for repeated crimes using violence or weapon, punishable with from five to eight years in prison, and depriving a position for three years.

Several employees of the Defense Ministry have filed a complaint against Bacho Akhalaia, according to his lawyer, who assumes that this may be the reason for his detention.

Davit Dekanoidze said the questions were about the period when Akhalaia was defense minister, incidents of assaulting employees and unfairly firing them, which he says are completely groundless accusations.

Former government officials consider the detention of Bacho Akhalaia politically motivated and groundless. Leaders within the National Movement Party, who were present at the Prosecutor’s Office, say Akhalaia is a political prisoner.

Bacho Akhalaia served as prison minister for three years, then defense minister for three years, and then interior minister for a few months.

After the election on October 1, he left the country and returned a few days ago, stating he doesn’t plan to leave the country, is ready to answer every question regarding his actions and is responsible for each step he made while holding official positions.

Bacho Akhalaia is considered as a staunch Saakashvili loyalist. July 4, he was appointed as interior minister, but when the prison abuse scandal broke September 19, he resigned. Many prisoners and their parents accused him of being personally involved in a number of torture incidents. He was also accused of being involved in a rebellion at Ortachala prison in Tbilisi on March 27, 2006.