TBILISI, DFWatch — The head of the General Headquarters and the Commander of the Fourth Brigade were detained overnight. This follows after a former defense minister was detained hours before. All are accused of abusing their power.
Giorgi Kalandadze, Head of the General Headquarters, was detained this morning at 05:20, and later Zurab Shamatava, Commander of the Fourth Brigade, was also detained.
Former Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia was detained yesterday after four hours of interrogation at the prosecutor’s office. He has served in several positions while President Saakashvili’s party was in power and is considered a Saakashvili loyalist. The accusations deal with events that happened while Akhalaia was defense minister.
Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani said at a press conference Wednesday that Kalandadze is accused of abuse of power. He was taken into preliminary detention. The minister said he has not been questioned yet.
Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashivli doesn’t exclude that other officials may also be detained, but he underlined that no one else has been detained than those three.
If found guilty, all of them may face from five to eight years in jail.
The reason of the arrests, according to Georgia’s chief prosecutor, is that the investigation revealed that in October 2011, the Defense Minister, the Chair of the General Headquarters and the Commander of the Fourth Brigade physically and verbally abused six military personnel at the minister’s office.
Kbilashvili says Akhalaia hit one of the servicemen in the head with the handle of a knife. Afterwards, he took the servicemen to Vaziani military base in Tbilisi, where they once again were verbally and physically abused.
Due to the large public interest, the witness testimonies will soon be made public. The investigation is still in progress, and details will be made known later.
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili today commented on the arrest of Bacho Akhalaia, saying that there were legal grounds to detain him.
“This was not a political arrest, and as far as I know there were legal grounds to detain him,” he said adding that all happened by defending legal procedures.
“So many people are bitter over him, it won’t be necessary for me to intervene here. I’ve stated and I repeat that a large part of population is bitter over the government. Our team will create a real environment to restore justice through the courts.”