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Last updated: 10:55 - 1 May.'18
Coup Plotter Suspect Stripped of MP Immunity
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 31 Jan.'08 / 16:27

MP Valery Gelbakhiani was suspended from Parliament and stripped of his legal immunity by his colleagues on January 31.

Gelbakhiani, the former head of tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili’s election campaign, has been charged with conspiring to overthrow the government.

The General Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation on December 17, after Irakli Kodua, head of the Interior Ministry’s Special Operations Department (SOD), notified investigators that Marina Gabunia, a former judge (currently in police custody pending trial), and Gelbakhiani had tried to bribe him in exchange for taking part in the alleged conspiracy. News of the investigation broke on December 24 when the General Prosecutor's Office released extracts from a covertly recorded video tape, in which Gelbakhiani tells Kodua about planned post-election unrest.

At the time, Gelbakhiani had already fled Georgia and was reportedly in Armenia. How he was able to leave the country has become a major source of controversy, with many suggesting official connivance. In a parliamentary committee hearing earlier this week, MP Kakha Kukava of the opposition Conservative Party demanded answers from Tbilisi chief prosecutor Giorgi Gviniashvili. Gviniashvili explained that although Gelbakhiani had been under intense surveillance, he had been allowed to cross the border, so as not to raise his suspicions. The then on-going investigation, Gviniashvili said, could have been jeopardized otherwise.

Gviniashvili told lawmakers on January 31 that Gelbakhiani and Patarkatsishvili intended to jointly overthrow the government by inciting post-election unrest. Patarkatsishvili has been charged with conspiring to overthrow the government and plotting two separate “terrorist acts”, one of which was allegedly aimed at Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili. Patarkatsishvili was remanded in custody for two months by Tbilisi City Court - in absentia - on January 15.

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