TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia’s dismissed defense minister has given a ‘final warning’ to the country’s prosecutors, after which he plans to get the international community involved in the process.
Irakli Alasania was dismissed shortly after making strong statements regarding the detentions and charges against employees at his former ministry.
Now he says defense lawyers have still not received the files about the so-called cable case, in which ministry employees are charged with embezzlment of more than four million lari. The lawyers are therefore unable to defend their clients.
“This is the final warning, especially toward the Prosecutor’s Office. If the lawyers won’t be given an opportunity to defend these people I will get the international community involved in this process,” he said on Tuesday without specifying what measures he is planning to take.
Levan Samushia, one of the lawyers of the detained officials, responded to the proposal of the Prosecutor’s Office to let them only read case material instead of sending copies, by calling it ‘buttafuori’, which means bouncer in Italian.
Lawyer says it is not possible to take the case and defend the client by only being allowed to read the material once.
The Prosecutor’s Office claims the case has status as ‘top secret’, that’s why they don’t plan to send defense lawyers copies of the files before the documents have been declassified.
“We offered them to come and read the case material in a special room for them,” prosecutor in the case Jarji Tsiklauri says. “We also told them we could bring the documents to their office, but the lawyers refused, with no arguments. Getting familiar with the documents is not their goal. They had the opportunity and didn’t use it.”
The Prosecutor’s Office asked the Defense Ministry to lift the ‘top secret’ status, but it still remains classified.
The office charged five Defense Ministry employees on October 28 in a case concerning a tender in 2013. According to investigators, the ministry rigged the competition in favor of the company Silknet, and in the course of this, 4 million lari was embezzled.
The Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into two more cases involving staff at the same ministry and may launch several more investigations in the future.
Alasania suspects that the investigations might eventually reach him.
The Prosecutor’s Office responded on Wednesday that certain former officials and politicians and the media are conducting a campaign against the office aimed at misleading society and discredit the Prosecutor’s Office by pretending that they don’t have an opportunity to get familiar with the case material, which makes clear their intent to interrupt the investigation and the search for the objective truth in case, the statement reads.
The office published letters sent to defense lawyers in which they explain why they cannot send copies of the case material, since they have status as ‘top secret’ and the case concerns issues related to military security. Defense lawyers were warned that secret material wouldn’t be handed over to them, but they were given the opportunity to read the material once, which they refused several times.
In the statement, the Prosecutor’s Office again offered defense lawyers to make themselves familiar with the case material in a special room, make notes and read them for a 24-hour period, but they won’t be allowed to take these documents away from the room or make copies.
The room is located in the Prosecutor’s Office and there is five-volume document file placed on the table for the lawyers. But the lawyers again refused to accept the offer.