Business tycoon and presidential candidate Badri Patarkatsishvili is no longer an official suspect in the alleged attempted overthrow of the government, Nika Gvaramia, the deputy general prosecutor, said on December 20.
Speaking live on Rustavi 2 TV’s late-night political talk show Primetime, Gvaramia said that an investigation into an alleged attempted coup was still ongoing; however, he said, Patarkatsishvili was no longer a suspect.
“Patarkatsishvili was a suspect in the case, but he has never been charged,” Gvaramia said. “No criminal proceedings are underway against this person.”
Gvaramia explained that, in accordance with the law, Patarkatsishvili’s suspect status had been automatically dropped as no charges had been brought against him 30 days after his naming as an official suspect.
The General Prosecutor’s Office officially declared Patarkatsishvili a suspect in an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government on November 7. The decision was, however, only made public two days later.
Gvaramia also reiterated the official position vis-à-vis demands to provide Patarkatsishvili with additional security guarantees. He said there were no legal grounds for doing so.
“The law does not envisage such additional guarantees,” Gvaramia said. “The law provides immunity to a presidential candidate and there is no other provision in the law beyond that.”
Senior government and ruling party officials have claimed that Patarkatsishvili’s demand was simply “a pre-election stunt.”
The Patarkatsishvili campaign claims that presidential immunity is not enough. The Central Election Commission (CEC) can on a majority vote, it points out, remove this immunity if prosecutors provide justified reasons for doing so.
Gvaramia clarification follows an intervention earlier on the same day by MP Valery Gelbakhiani, representing the Patarkatsishvili campaign, in which he said that Patarkatsishvili had no immediate plans to return to Georgia because of the absence of additional security guarantees.
Gelbakhiani said there was a threat that Patarkatsishvili would be arrested upon his arrival. To make his point, he showed journalists a video clip of retired Colonel, Revaz Chakvetadze, in which he claims he was forced to give false evidence against Patarkatsishvili to justify the alleged planned arrest of Patarkatsishvili.
Chakvetadze claimed in the video message that he had been arrested on November 12 and released only after being forced to “give false testimony” that Patarkatsishvili had financed the purchase of weapons for a coup.
The deputy general prosecutor, however, rejected the allegation, saying it was “untrue.”
“This person [Chakvetadze] has never even been arrested,” Gvaramia said. “So he couldn’t have given any testimony against anyone.”