Bacho Akhalaia, former defense and interior minister, has been charged with two different counts including “exceeding official powers” and “illegal deprivation of freedom”, according to his lawyer.
Charges on second count, involving “illegal deprivation of freedom”, represent new development in Akhalaia’s case.
Details of this new episode in charges against Akhalaia were not immediately clear; his lawyer did not provide details and the prosecutor’s office has not yet commented.
When Akhalaia was arrested just before midnight on November 6, investigation was ongoing into the case of “exceeding official powers” involving alleged abuse of soldiers when he served as defense minister in October, 2011.
Chief of staff of the Georgian armed forces, Giorgi Kalandadze, and commander of 4th infantry brigade Zurab Shamatava were also arrested in connection to the same case of alleged soldiers’ abuse and prosecutors brought charges against these two senior military commanders under the part 3 of article 333 of the criminal code, which deals with cases of “exceeding official powers” that result into “insult of victim’s dignity”.
All three men deny the charges, according to their defense lawyers.
Meanwhile, former PM Vano Merabishvili, who is now secretary general of the United National Movement (UNM) party said that the way how army chief of staff, Giorgi Kalandadze, was arrested – at dawn in the office of the Defense Minister – was “shameful”, “disgusting” and made in “old Soviet KGB style”.
Also on November 8, a group of UNM lawmakers met with representatives of Tbilisi-based foreign diplomatic missions to raise their concerns over the arrest of Bacho Akhalaia and two senior military commanders, which they say was politically motivated.
Meanwhile, President Saakashvili visited family of army chief of staff Giorgi Kalandadze and also spoke on phone with families of Bacho Akhalaia and commander of 4th infantry brigade Zurab Shamatava on November 8, according to the President’s office.