Several officials from the Interior Ministry, some of them high-ranking officers, were arrested overnight on Thursday after a lengthy questioning by prosecutors.
Reports about exact number of detained officials varied, but as Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani said nine officials were arrested.
The prosecutor’s office has not yet provided details of the cases.
The most senior official among the arrested Interior Ministry employees is Levan Kardava, head of the powerful Department of Constitutional Security (DCS).
Kardava was promoted on this post after Bacho Akhalaia became the Interior Minister in July, 2012.
Akhalaia is now under pretrial detention pending investigation into criminal charges involving torture, illegal confinement and exceeding of official powers.
Charges against Kardava are not related to the case for which Akhalaia has been arrested, said Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani, who declined to discuss details of the case.
Kardava’s lawyer said that his client was detained in connection to an ongoing investigation into alleged illegal confinement and exceeding official powers. The case involves alleged abduction of PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s former bodyguard, who disappeared few days before the October 1 parliamentary elections and reappeared with a video message saying that he was making public covertly recorded audio files of some of the Georgian Dream senior figures, intended to show them in a bad light.
Among the arrested officials is head of one of the units at the Department of Constitutional Security, Giorgi Kavlashvili. According to his lawyer Kavlashvili was arrested in connection to the case involving damage of a property owned by PM Ivanishvili-affiliated Cartu Group during a customs clearance. Details are not clear, but after Ivanishvili announced about going into politics in October, 2011, the Cartu Group often complained that various equipments imported by its member companies were “deliberately damaged” by the authorities during the customs clearance procedures.
One arrested Interior Ministry official, according to his lawyer, was detained in connection to alleged illegal surveillance.
Justice Minister, Tea Tsulukiani, said earlier on November 15 that arrest of several Interior Ministry officials was related to cybercrime, involving obtaining personal and commercial data by hacking computers. She did not give the details of the case, but before the elections, Ivanishvili campaign team accused the authorities of illegal surveillance through cyberattack.
Formal charges have not yet been filed by the prosecutor’s office.