Bacho Akhalaia (center), who was interior minister just weeks ago, may face more than ten years in jail if found guilty. He denies the charges. (IPN.)

TBILISI, DFWatch — A former government official and Saakashvili’s loyalist was today officially charged with abusing his power and illegal deprivation of freedom.

Georgia’s chief prosecutor’s office has charged Bacho Akhalaia, former prison, defense and interior minister, under article 333 and 143 of the criminal code.

His lawyers state that he denies the accusations in each case.

In addition, two of Georgia’s highest military officers, Zurab Shamatava, commander of the fourth brigade of the armed forces and Giorgi Kalandadze, head of the general headquarters, were also charged with abusing their powers.

All charges are based on testimonies and statements by specific persons, but the lawyers say none of the detained admit guilt.

All three were arrested November 7. Violation of article 333 is punishable with from five to eight years in jail, while violation of article 143 is punishable with up to ten years in jail. Under the current law, sentences are added on top of each other. Bacho Akhalaia may therefore face eighteen years in jail.

The new government has however proposed to remove the provision which makes it mandatory for judges to add together prison terms.