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TV Story Questions MIA’s Report on High-Profile Operation
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 6 Mar.'06 / 12:14

A televised report aired by the Tbilisi-based Imedi television on March 5 questioned the official version of the death of former anti-drug policeman Gia Telia and indicated that some officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) could have been interested in killing the former policeman, who may have had valuable information about drug trafficking in Georgia.

This report comes a few weeks after several top officials from the Interior Ministry became ensnared in a scandal involving the murder case of Sandro Girgvliani. This latter case was brought into the spotlight as the result of a televised report by Imedi television as well.

Gia Telia, a former policeman from the anti-drug unit who retired in 2003, was killed in a clash with the Interior Ministry’s Special Operations Department (SOD) on February 16, according to the official information of the Interior Ministry. According to the Ministry Telia, who was a suspected drug dealer, was killed by police after he opened fire.

The Interior Ministry’s press office disseminated video footage of the operation to local television stations. This video showed the body of Telia lying on the floor of his apartment holding a pistol in his right hand. But in an interview with Imedi television, relatives of Telia claim that Telia would not hold a gun in his right hand as he was left-handed.

Relatives also claimed that Telia was predicting that the some officials from the Ministry wanted “to get rid of him” because of the information he possessed about their possible involvement in drug trafficking.

Last November, the Georgian daily Rezonansi published an interview with Gia Telia. He says in the interview that the police tried to arrest him under fabricated charges, but failed. Then he was attacked and injured by a gunshot. He also said in the interview that he was under the constant threat of being killed. In the interview Telia did not name those officials from the Interior Ministry who were allegedly interested in his elimination, but speculated that Irakli Kodua, Chief of the Interior Ministry’s Special Operations Department (SOD), “was ordered” to organize his eradication. This interview with Telia was republished by the Rezonansi on February 17 after Telia’s death.

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