The Interior Ministry said on Wednesday that five men, among them three acting and one former law enforcement officers, have been arrested in connection to torture of two detained men depicted on videotapes found in arms cache in Samegrelo region this week.
Earlier on Wednesday Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili said that nine persons, including several acting and former law enforcement officers and one defense ministry official, were arrested in connection to this case. But according to a written statement released by the Interior Ministry later on Wednesday afternoon, five person, not nine, were arrested.
The Interior Ministry said that it was made possible to identify these five men after the police found videotapes, showing torture and sexual abuse of detainees, which were stored in a cache of unregistered arms and explosives, unearthed in Samegrelo region, western Georgia on June 17.
On June 19 Interior Minister Garibashvili met representatives of Tbilisi-based foreign diplomatic missions and briefed them about these videotapes.
After the meeting Garibashvili said that two victims, depicted on videotapes, were subjected to torture for the purpose of forcing them to admit responsibility for “a very grave crime”, which he did not specify.
Garibashvili said that it was not an “isolated” case. “We believe it was a systemic problem,” he said and added that this problem was stemming from the policy of the previous authorities.
“The society should know who was behind it. I want to remind everyone that Vano Merabishvili was the [interior] minister at the time; all those high ranking officials should be held responsible during whose tenure such terrible things were happening,” Garibashvili said.
In a statement later on June 19, the Interior Ministry said that three former senior law enforcement officials, including Megis Kardava; Kokhta Kodua and Davit Chaganava were wanted in connection to this case; none of them are in Georgia. Megis Kardava, who is former head of military police, is also wanted in Georgia for separate criminal charges, unrelated to arms cache found in Samegrelo; he is on Interpol’s wanted list.
The Interior Ministry also said that “investigative measures” were ongoing against several others, among them one employee of the Ministry of Defense; former police chief in town of Zugdidi in Samegrelo region and two former interior ministry officials; none of them are arrested.
In his remarks with journalists after meeting with Tbilisi-based diplomats earlier on June 19, Interior Minister Garibashvili also responded to UNM’s allegations, which claimed that the arms cache uncovered by the Interior Ministry was in fact one of those secret storages of the Defense Ministry, where weapons are hidden as part of defensive purposes in the case of foreign military invasion and guerrilla warfare. Echoing to Defense Minister Irakli Alasania’s remarks, the Interior Minister also said that the arms cache found in Samegrelo was unregistered and belonged to neither the defense ministry nor the interior ministry.