TBILISI, DFWatch–Former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili accuses Chief Prosecutor of harassing him. The National Movement party asks to have the case investigated and that the responsible officials are dismissed.
The government claims Merabishvili’s accusations are lies.
Merabishvili, who is in detention, said at a hearing on Tuesday that Chief Prosecutor Otar Partskhaladze asked him to help about the case of deceased Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and threatened that if he doesn’t help, his conditions in prison would get worse and his friends and relatives would be arrested.
Merabishivli claims that he was taken from the prison Friday night, put in a car and his head was covered with his own jacket. He assumes that he was moved to the Prison Department and brought to one of the offices, where two persons met him. One of them was the chief prosecutor. He is not sure about the other one but assumes that it was the new head of the Prison Department Dimitry Darbaiseli, who soon left the room and didn’t attend the conversation with the chief prosecutor.
“The chief prosecutor spoke about ultimatums, saying that if I don’t help in opening the Zurab Zhvania case and if I do not provide numbers of Mikheil Saakashvili’s bank accounts then they will give me a bad day,” he said, adding that many may have complaints with Saakashvili, but accusing the ex-president of corruption is complete absurd.
Merabishvili also said that it now is a a year since the new government came into power. They have gotten familiar with all the material and still aren’t sure that the investigation conducted into the Zhvania case by the previous government is ‘perfect and it is not possible to find other options.’
He was talking about the official version of the investigation. Zurab Adeishvili, Chief Prosecutor and Merabishvili, Interior Minister, a few hours after discovering Zhvania’s dead body in February 2005 stated that the prime minister was poisoned by gas which was leaking from an incorrectly installed heater.
Now, Merabishvili says that he was threatened by getting worse conditions in prison.
“As long as Gharibashvili’s government is in power, and Gharibashvili plans to be in power for a long time, I won’t be able to leave prison,” he said, adding that he was also threatened that his friends and relatives from the party will be arrested and other friends will have problems, like interruption in their business. “He also told me that they still will be able to confirm the charges in the case of Zhvania and that Americans are helping the investigation.”
Merabiashvili continued that he was given time until Monday to make a decision.
“If I help them they told me that I will be given money back which I ‘stole’ when I was in government and I will have opportunity to take this money abroad,” he added.
The former minister thinks it is not hard to investigate this case and define whether he was taken from the cell or not. He claims he was taken back to cell at 2:30 at night.
The Prosecutor’s Office said his words are absurd and lies.
“The Chief Prosecutor’s Office categorically denies any fact of pressure over the abovementioned person and underscores that after the trial of I. Merabishvili being gone to the final phase, various activities have been carried out by the accused and their supporters, which are aimed to mislead the public and put pressure on the participants of the court hearing,” the office’s statement reads.
The office writes that such behavior took place at Merabishvili’s previous hearing, at which, during the questioning of the witness Sulamanidze, the latter was subjected to the verbal abuse and threats. The Chief Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into what happened.
“After the court hearing, the accused and defense have been trying to mislead the public for several days, as if Sulamanidze has not given a testimony at the court hearing, exposing the crime of Merabishvili, which does not correspond to reality and is fully documented in court hearing protocol,” the statement reads.
The Prosecutor’s Office clams that speculation by various people regarding the Zhvania case has become frequent, and the they relate it to the investigative actions on this case being more active and to the high public interest.
“We would like to emphasize that notwithstanding the ungrounded and frivolous statements, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia will conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of this and other cases and will steadily continue fulfilling its obligations imposed by Law.”
Members of the United National Movement demand to suspend authority of Chief Prosecutor and Minister of Prison unless the case of Merabiashvili is not investigated. They also demand to publish old and new details in the case of Zurab Zhvania.