TBILISI, DFWatch–The Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia has brought further charges against ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili and other former officials in a case concerning an attack on a former parliamentarian.
Prosecutors say Saakashvili and former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili were responsible for organizing the attack on and beating of Valeri Gelashvili in 2005. httpv://youtu.be/cCWDSzhSKas
Also Erekle Kodua, a former head of the Interior Ministry’s Special Operative Department, is charged in the case.
The attack happened two weeks after an article published June 29, 2005, in the daily newspaper Rezonansi under the headline ‘Valeri Gelashvili will devote own apartment to Saakashvili’.
In it, Valeri Gelashvili expressed dissatisfaction towards Saakashvili because his property had been appropriated but no compensation paid. Gelashvili is a wealthy businessman who built his fortune in Lithuania. At the time he was a majoritarian member of parliament for his home district Khashuri.
The interview also contained comments by Gelashvili about the former president’s private life, comments that were seen by many Saakashvili supporters as a personal insult to the former president. Among the details was an alleged extra-marital affair with an Ossetian woman.
The Prosecutor’s Office assumes that Saakashvili wanted to punish Gelashvili for the article for reasons of ‘personal revenge.’ The statement says the ex-president instructed former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili to organize the attack, but he refused to carry out the order. Then he instructed Merabishvili to put the plan into motion.
Merabishvili ordered Kodua to carry out Saakashvili’s attack order, and the attack took place at about 2 PM on July 14, 2005. Two cars with rugged men coerced Gelashvili’s Mercedes to stop, then dragged him out and brutally beat him, as a result of which he got multiple fractures and injuries to his head and face.
The office brought charges against Kodua for this incident in April.
Saakashvili is currently subject to a pre-trial detention order, although he is out of the country. This is in a case concerning the violent dispersal of an anti-government demonstration in Tbilisi on November 7, 2007.
Valeri Gelashvili, who now is also majoritarian MP for Khashuri for the Georgian Dream coalition, on Tuesday told journalists that he had known that his punishment was ordered by the former president Mikheil Saakashvili and executed by the men of Vano Merabishvili, then interior minister. He claimed that several members of Saakashvili’s United National Movement have admitted that the beating was ordered by the former president.
“During [private] meeting they [UNM members] used to say that this [attack] was ordered by Saakashvili, saying what else he could do in this situation,” said Gelashvili.