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Top MIA Officials Grilled over Murder Case
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 22 Feb.'06 / 20:02

Opposition parliamentarians announced on February 22 that they will convene Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili to brief the MPs about the investigation into the murder of Sandro Girgvliani.

This murder case became the focus of public attention after the weekly program "Droeba" - on the Tbilisi-based Imedi television station - aired some details of the case on February 12, which alleged that top officials from the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MIA), as well as the wife of Minister Merabishvili, Tako Salakaia, could have been linked to this case.

Sandro Girgvliani, head of the United Georgian Bank’s international relations department, was found dead on January 28 on the outskirts of Tbilisi with multiple injuries inflicted as a result of physical abuse.

According to the report on Imedi television, late on January 27 Sandro Girgvliani, accompanied by a friend, arrived at a café in downtown Tbilisi to meet Girgvliani’s girlfriend, Tamar Maisuradze, who was with Tako Salakaia, wife of the Interior Minister, Data Akhalaia, chief of the constitutional department of the Interior Ministry, Guram Donadze, spokesman of the Interior Ministry and Vasil Sanodze, chief of the general inspection of the Interior Ministry. After a minor dispute with these people, Sandro Girgvliani and his friend left the scene, but were kidnapped by unknown men shortly after they left the café and taken to Okrokana, on the outskirts of Tbilisi. Girgvliani’s friend claims he was able to escape, while Girgvliani’s body was found close to nearby cemetery the next morning.

At a news conference on February 22, MP Koba Davitashvili, leader of the opposition Conservative Party and MP Koka Guntsadze of the New Rights opposition party, demanded that the authorities immediately investigate the case. They also alleged that Oleg Melnikov, an employee of the Interior Ministry, was among those persons who kidnapped Girgvliani and his friend.

“Melnikov should be immediately arrested, while other officials from the Interior Ministry involved in this case should, at least at this stage, resign,” MP Koba Davitashvili said.

At a news conference on February 21, Sandro Girgvliani's mother said that officials from the Interior Ministry “masterminded my son’s murder.” She demanded an immediate interrogation of those officials from the Interior Ministry who were present at the cafe with Girgvliani.

Guram Donadze, spokesman of the Interior Ministry, told InterPressNews agency on February 21 that he and other officials have already been interrogated. “I will not make further comments while the investigation is going,” Donadze said, but denied the allegations as “groundless.”

Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili told Rustavi 2 television on February 22, that he is “always ready to appear in the Parliament” and answer questions from the parliamentarians.

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