TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office on Monday introduced a new charge against former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, that of abuse of powers in the case of Sandro Girgvliani’s murder.
In a statement, the office said Merabishvili took a number of the following actions on purpose: staging and falsification of evidence in order to hide a crime and the guilty, providing advantages for people who were punished for the murder, and supporting the release of the guilty before they had served their term in prison.
The Prosecutor’s Office also claims that Merabishvili committed those actions for his own merits, remained silent and didn’t give testimony against family members and himself.
Four officials in the Interior Ministry’s Constitution Security Department or Kudi were July 6 of 2006 convicted of murdering Girgvliani. In July, 2007, Georgia’s Supreme Court reduced their sentence by six months. In 2008, a presidential decree of pardon reduced their sentence to half, while in September of 2009 each of them were released early under conditions and thus they only spent three and a half years in prison.
The statement by the Prosecutor’s Office says that the investigation, which was re-opened in 2012, confirmed the following: Sandro Girgvilani was killed on orders after a birthday party of Vasil Sanodze, Chairman of the General Inspection in 2006 and was ordered by Data Akhalaia, who at the time chaired Kudi and who is the brother of former Defense Minister Bacho Akhalia, who at this time remains in detention. Participants in the murder included not only those convicted, but also higher officials in the police.
The investigation also revealed that people remained silent after being paid off in order to interrupt the investigation, hide and falsify evidence. The perpetrators enjoyed privileges in prison and ‘frequently were visiting their homes and even old work places.’
The investigation is not yet finished. Merabishvili’s lawyer says that his client doesn’t admit he committed a crime and considers the new charges politically motivated.