Shota Khizanishvili, deputy Tbilisi mayor and former deputy interior minister, has been arrested after several hours of interrogation in the prosecutor’s office on November 15, his lawyer said.
Khizanishvili’s defense lawyer said that his client was arrested in connection to investigation into the alleged case of “exceeding official powers”.
Details were not immediately clear; the prosecutor’s office has yet to comment.
The lawyer says that Khizanishvili denies the allegations.
Formal charges have not yet been filed by the prosecutor’s office.
In a brief written statement released after Khizanishvili was summoned for questioning, the prosecutor’s office said that its anti-corruption department opened investigation “in connection to some employees of the Interior Ministry” and former deputy interior minister, Shota Khizanishvili, was questioned in connection to this case, details of which were not provided in the statement.
Prosecutor’s office said that a senior official from the Interior Ministry’s Department of Constitutional Security, Vazha Leluashvili, was also interrogated.
It was reported later on November 15 that Leluashvili was also arrested after the questioning and was facing charges related to illegal surveillance.
Head of the Interior Ministry’s Department of Constitutional Security and several other Interior Ministry officials were arrested overnight on Thursday.
Khizanishvili was chief of Interior Ministry’s administration when the ministry was led by Vano Merabishvili, former PM and now secretary General of President Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) party.
Khizanishvili was then promoted to the post of deputy interior minister after Bacho Akhalaia replaced Merabishvili on the post of interior minister in early July, 2012.
After the October 1 parliamentary elections Khizanishvili was appointed as deputy to Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava, who is President Saakashvili’s close ally.
Ugulava has condemned his deputy’s arrest as “political persecution.”
A senior UNM lawmaker, Giorgi Baramidze said: ““A fierce campaign of political persecution is ongoing.”
“It will have very negative consequences for our country,” MP Baramidze added.
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