TBILISI, DFWatch–While Georgia’s western backed defense minister struggles to prove the innocence of his ‘brothers-in-arms’, the Prosecutor’s Office dealt the beleaguered minister another blow.

The Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday brought a new case about food poisoning among soldiers in 2013 and charged a number of other Defense Ministry officials.

Last week, the office detained five ministry employees for embezzlement and today informed that they are studying another case about possible violation during a tender announced by the ministry.

The office said in a statement that in 2013 there were ten cases of poisoning of military employees, in which 858 military servants were poisoned and 90 of them were placed in a military hospital.

The military police launched an investigation, but didn’t do such urgent investigative activities as laboratory tests and examination of sanitary conditions and hygiene in diners, an oversight which hampered the investigation. A criminal case was therefore initiated on October 18, 2013, about poisoning of soldiers, and the case was handed to the Prosecutor Office for investigation, the statement explains.

The office says the case involves Georgian Food Company Ltd, which was founded by the Defense Ministry, and the following ministry officials: head of the Medical Department of the Joint Staff, the chief doctor of the third infantry brigade of the armed forces, head of the medical service of the fourth infantry brigade, the manager of the diner of the third infantry brigade, the manager of the diner of the fourth infantry brigade and the manager of the diner of the tenth brigade cadre.

The suspects will be charged with negligence and carelessness in the course of their duties, as they didn’t ensure the necessary supervision and food control and as a result soldiers were poisoned.

The office specifies that in the food provided by the diners there was discovered contaminated food product containing bacteria belonging to the colon bacillus group, E. coli and aureus [likely meaning S. aureus, ed.].

The mass poisoning caused an interruption in the normal functioning of these military departments, which violated the legal interests of the military and the country, the statement says.

Representatives of the office told journalists on Tuesday that the investigators are studying one more case related to another tender announced by the Defense Ministry and a contract signed with Architect Bureau Ltd, which also has status as ‘top secret’. Investigators suspect that there are new connections and personal contacts among ministry officials and company representatives.

Defense Minister Irakli Alasania has had meetings with the PM and other high ranking officials, and is planning a briefing today at 18:00 at the office of his Free Democrats Party. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili is meeting with the parliamentary majority and members of the government, also today.