High Profile Murder Convicts Released
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 6 Sep.'09 / 18:09

Four former Interior Ministry officials, convicted for Sandro Girgvliani murder case, were released along with other 384 convicts, whose imprisonment verdicts were replaced with probation terms, according to the Ministry of Penitentiary and Probation.

The measure applied, according to the ministry, to those 388 convicts who pled guilty, cooperated with investigation and committed no wrongdoing during their term in prison and already served part of their jail term.

Gia Alania, at the time chief of the first unit of the Interior Ministry’s Department for Constitutional Security and three other officers from the same department - Avtandil Aptsiauri, Aleksandre Gachava and Mikheil Bibiluridze, were arrested in March, 2006 and in July, 2006 Tbilisi City Court sentenced Alania and three other former officers to eight and seven-year prison terms, respectively for inflicting injuries that resulted in Girgvliani’s death.

The Court of Appeals upheld the verdict in December, 2006. The Supreme Court, however, cut their prison terms by six months after dropping charges involving damage to the belongings of the victim. Then in November, 2008, the four men’s prison terms were halved as a result of the presidential pardon.

The murder case of 28-year-old Girgvliani has turned into the key political issue in 2006 and it reemerges time after time in the political discourse, because of persisting allegations that the investigation covered up possible links of other Interior Ministry officials, as well as of wife of Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, to this murder case.

On Sunday, the Georgian media sources reported that four men met with head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, who blessed them to spend one year in a monastery; the television stations also showed footage of the four men holding candles in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi.

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