TBILISI, DFWatch–The Prosecutor’s Office Saturday presented a fifth charge against close Saakashvili ally Bacho Akhalaia, this time about torture through abuse of powers.
Those who were tortured were ‘punished’ for their political views, and the crime was committed by a group.
Akhalaia was prison minister in Saakashvili’s government, then he became defense minister and at the very end interior minister for two months, but he resigned after the prison abuse scandal in September, 2012.
People demanded that he was punished, because he was prison minister for years and most of the complaints were related to the prison system and applied to the period when he had responsibility for it.
Akhalaia secretly left the country after Saakashvil’s party was defeated in the parliamentary election in 2012. When he returned he was immediately detained and given a first charge of exceeding powers with several criminal cases launched against him.
On Saturday, the Prosecutor’s Office published details of another charge of abuse of powers and torture.
According to this new charge, Akhalaia as interior minister in August 2012 learned that Teimuraz Palavandishvili, Zaza Pantskalashvili, Mamuka Zhvania, Davit Bagratishvili, Mikheil Edisherashvili, Samvel Bazoiani and Arsen Mkrtumiani, employees of the Interior Ministry, were dissatisfied with Saakashvili’s government and supported the opposition coalition Georgian Dream.
He and Davit Vekua, chairman of the first department of the ministry, verbally and physically abused them. Afterward, they were taken to an education center for special operations and there they were beaten for few days, because they supported Bidzina Ivanishvili and his political alliance.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the crime is made worse by the fact that Akhalaia had ordered those persons fired, so that at the time when they were tortured, they were ordinary citizens, not ministry employees. Former sergeants whose contracts with the defense ministry were no longer in force participated in the torture. They were also ordinary citizens at the time and it was illegal to bring them to the education center.
“These persons were tortured, humiliated and mistreated at the Iaghluja training base from August 19 to September 21, 2012. During this period, Davit Vekua a few times visited the education center and beat all of them, humiliated and put them in dishonored conditions,” the Prosecutor’s Office statement reads.
A few days earlier, before leaving the base, all seven were warned not to say anything, but lie that they were injured during training. If they told what had happened, their families would be terrorized, they were threatened.