Former interior minister and ex-PM Vano Merabishvili, who is in pre-trial detention, said at a court hearing in Kutaisi on Tuesday that chief prosecutor, Otar Partskhaladze, told him to help solve the case of death of PM Zurab Zhvania otherwise threatened with deterioration of his condition in prison and with the arrest of his friends and relatives.
Merabishvili said that at about 1:30am on Saturday he was taken out of his prison cell with his head shrouded in his jacket and driven to a location, which he thinks was the office of department of penitentiary system. Merabishvili said that two men were in the room with one of them chief prosecutor Otar Partskhaladze; he said he’s not sure who’s the second man, but thinks he was head of the penitentiary system, who then left the room and was not present during a conversation between him and the chief prosecutor.
“Chief prosecutor set an ultimatum and told me that if I don’t help prosecutors to solve Zhvania’s case and if I do not provide prosecutors [information about] Mikheil Saakashvili’s bank accounts, I will find myself in a very bad situation. On these two issues I explicitly expressed my opinion: lot of [people] may have many complaints about Saakashvili, but it’s completely senseless to accuse him of corruption. On the second case [involving Zhvania’s death], I expressed my surprise because this government is in power for a quite a long time already and they had access to all the [case] files and could not they determine that the investigation carried out by the previous authorities is faultless,” Merabishvili said adding that “it’s impossible” to find out anything that may contradict to what has already been concluded that Zhvania’s death was an accident caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
“The chief prosecutor told me that if do not agree on his proposal, my conditions in the prison will drastically deteriorate… and also told me that as long as [PM Irakli] Garibashvili’s government remains in power, I won’t be able to leave the jail. He also told me that he will also put beside me [behind the bars] my political and other friends, relatives,” Merabishvili said.
“He told me that they will anyway solve Zhvania’s case and also said that Americans are helping them in that,” Merabishvili said, adding that he “smiled ironically” on these remarks by the chief prosecutor. “If I agree, they told me, they will allow me to take money I ‘stole’ out of Georgia”
Merabishvili said that it should not be difficult to verify his account and substantiate the fact that he was taken out of his prison cell. He said he was taken back to his prison cell at about 2:30am.