TBILISI, DFWatch–The Finance Ministry’s investigative service detained one more Defense Ministry official on Saturday.
Bakhva Surmanidze was detained for accepting a 400 lari (USD 218) bribe.
He is head of the purchasing department at the Giorgi Abramashvili Military Hospital and is charged with rigging a tender process in favor of an entrepreneur and thereby helping the company win the competition. Investigators did not specify what company was the winner of the tender or when it took place.
The investigation is conducted on the basis of suspicion of bribery, a criminal offense which is punishable with from six to eleven years in jail.
This is not a first case employes of the Defense Ministry have been detained. Five ministry officials were detained October 28, 2014, and charged with embezzling more than four million lari belonging to the state in connection with a tender announced by the ministry.
The detentions in the end of October was what caused the crisis within the government coalition and led to the dismissal of Defense Minister Irakli Alasania and the resignation of the foreign minister and the minister for Euro-Atlantic integration.
Another result of the crisis was that the Free Democrats Party left the coalition. Levan Jorbenadze, a Free Democrats member and former head of the Defense Ministry’s public affairs department, told DF Watch that he has not yet been informed about the investigation.
“We are now trying to find out if there are the same questions in this case as in the previous cases against ministry officials. If someone received a bribe, he should be detained, but I cannot comment unless I’m familiar with details of the case,” Jorbenadze says.
The Prosecutor’s Office is also investigating another case related to purchasing at the Defense Ministry, in connection with an agreement signed with Architecture Bureau Ltd.
Another case concerns the mass food poisoning of soldiers and sanitary issues at the diners of the armed forces.
Most of the details of these cases have not yet been made public. After some efforts by foreign diplomats, defense lawyers have been allowed access to the case files, but they refuse to comment until the investigation is finished.
Irakli Alasania thinks the investigation may even reach him, but so far he is not charged.