TBILISI, DFWatch–Saakashvili says the Girgvliani case is ‘a black stain’ for him which he feels partly responsible for.
After the televised state to the nation speech, which eventually ended up being held at his residence, the president invited journalists from all media outlets to ask questions. One of them asked about the murder of Sandro Girgvliani.
Girgvliani, a 28-year old bank employee, was discovered dead January 28, 2006, in a suburb of Tbilisi with multiple injuries, which were the result of physical violence. Wife of then Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili was involved, as well as officials in the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The murder led to strong criticism of the government, especially directed at the interior ministry, and led to society seriously questioning the independence of the courts and the reforms conducted by the government. Despite demands from the public, President Saakashvili didn’t consider holding the interior minister or other people involved responsible for the murder, but they were instead allowed to continue in their posts.
Friday, the president said they’ve learned the lesson.
“The topic of Girgvliani is one of the blackest stains for me, not because I was president then. Of course, as a president I share responsibility for things. If a biased investigation reveals something new, I only welcome it, and this should be real and not made up,” he said, adding that some people were discovered and punished at the time.
“I myself cannot imagine how you can get into such a situation, when a person leaves home in the evening, goes to a restaurant to enjoy time and then he is found dead. It is a very difficult topic.”
A journalist asked him why he pardoned the persons convicted of the murder. He said this topic became utterly politicized and it went beyond legal borders.
“I think this was destructive action from all sides. I think this was a very big tragedy. Those people were detained fast and were in jail for a few years. They were officers of high rank. First of all there was military amnesty related to the 2008 war and secondly, I repeat this topic became very politicized.”
Another journalist asked him why he avoided meeting with independent media for nine years. The president apologized to journalists.
“If I did anything wrong, I apologize to you. I really could have done it in a different way,” he said.
As a sign of protest, some journalists didn’t come to the residence Friday. The president said they should have come and told him everything they thought.
“They should have come and said their complaints directly, which they couldn’t tell for nine years – anger or disgust or fair justification, everything directly, what the problem is.”
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