Prosecutor’s office filed on July 2 additional criminal charges against former defense minister and ex-head of prison system Bacho Akhalaia involving “organizing torture” of several detainees in 2011 while serving as defense minister.
Akhalaia’s defense lawyer, Romeo Sajaia, said that charges are “absurd” and prosecution’s case will crumble like it happened with some other cases against Akhalaia. He said that newly filed charges only aim at keeping his client in pre-trial detention as term of the last remaining pre-trial custody for Akhalaia expires on July 26.
Akhalaia is in pre-trial detention since November, 2012 when first criminal charges were brought against him; his pre-trial detention was extended for multiple times since then as additional criminal charges into various separate cases were brought against him.
Since he was arrested in November, 2012 Akhalaia stood in three separate trials and is currently going through couple of other trials.
In two of them he was acquitted on charges of exceeding official powers, illegal confinement and torture in four separate cases.
But in late October, 2013 he was found guilty in a trial over inhuman treatment of inmates in 2006 when he served as prison system chief; he was sentenced to 3 years and 9 months in jail; but then President Saakashvili pardoned him in early November, 2013.
Despite of presidential pardon, Akhalaia remained in pre-trial detention in connection to power abuse charges brought against him in October, 2013 in a case related to his tenure as prison system chief; trial into this case is still ongoing. Nine months, which is maximum length of pre-trial detention in Georgia, into this case expires on July 26 and Akhalaia will remain behind bars if court finds him guilty into this case or if court rules pre-trial detention for Akhalai in connection to newly brought charges against him.
Trial is also ongoing in a separate case, which involves torture charges in which prosecution accuses Akhalai of beating six inmates in 2006 when he served as chief of prison system.
The newly added charges involve allegations that while serving as defense minister in September, 2011 Akhalaia, as the prosecutor’s office put it, “organized torture” of several men, as well as “organized sexual abuse” of a detainee to obtain false confessions about being Russian spies. One of the victims, according to prosecutor’s office, was retired colonel Sergo Tetradze, who died as a result of torture and sexual abuse while in custody; three other victims, according to prosecution, were Sergey Chapligin, Giorgi Gorelashvili and army colonel Davit Londaridze. Court found several former prison officers guilty into Tetradze’s case in January, 2014 and former senior official of military police Megis Kardava was found guilty of torturing Londaridze and Gorelashvili and sentenced to nine years in prison in absentia in the same trial in January.