vano merabishvili - handcuffed - 2013-05-22

Vano Merabishvili in Kutaisi City Court yesterday. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili on Thursday was moved from Kutaisi, in western Georgia, to the capital, and placed in the so-called Matrosov prison, where former government officials and others are offered slightly better conditions of incarceration.

The transfer took place late at night.

Merabishvili’s co-defendant Zurab Chiaberashvili, governor of the Kakheti region, was let out of jail after his family paid the  USD 12 000 bail money.

They were detained Tuesday for embezzlement in connection with a 2012 plan which involved hiring more than twenty thousand people to campaign for the UNM party before the election, under cover of being part of a national employment program to create new jobs.

Merabishvili also faces charges in connection with a murder in 2006 and the violent dispersal of an anti-government rally in 2011.

In his first comment to journalists, Chiaberashvili said that procedural rules were violated when he was detained, because he has life-long status as special ambassador, and only the justice minister, who holds superior prosecutorial power, has a right to detain him.

He also thinks the charges are ‘absurd’ and politically motivated.

“We had a good intention to register all persons who are seeking a job in Georgia, and if we had won the parliamentary election, we would have taken care of employing those people,” he added.

Chiaberashvili said he will continue his ordinary work in Kakheti.