Allegation of having a criminal record is stirring a scandal around chief prosecutor, Otar Partskhaladze, who was appointed on the post by PM Irakli Garibashvili a month ago.
Late on Monday evening, Gigi Ugulava, who was suspended from Tbilisi mayoral office by the court upon prosecution’s motion, claimed in a televised statement made from UNM opposition party’s headquarters that in 2001 Partskhaladze served a prison term for robbery in Germany. Ugulava said that Partskhaladze was found guilty under sections 249 and 252 of the German criminal code and sentenced to one year and three months in jail; these sections deal with robbery, as well as with theft and use of force to retain stolen goods. Ugulava also said that Partskhaladze served his prison term in a penitentiary facility in Augsburg.
After Ugulava leveled the allegation, head of the Tbilisi-based legal advocacy and human rights group, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), Kakha Kozhoridze, said he was first informed about Partskhaladze’s possible criminal record two weeks ago, but withheld the information because GYLA was still in the process of verifying it. Kozhoridze said that he received this information from two prosecutors, whom he did not name as they requested anonymity.
Partskhaladze, who has not made any public appearance since becoming the chief prosecutor, is expected to make a statement in response to the allegations on Tuesday, according to his spokesperson.
Partskhaladze, 37, who was appointed as chief prosecutor on November 21, served as head of Finance Ministry’s investigative unit in Shida Kartli region in 2012; he became deputy head of this service in January 2013 and then he was promoted as head of the ministry’s investigative service. Finance Ministry’s investigative service, informally known as financial police, is in charge of probing into financial wrongdoings.
Commenting on allegations against Partskhaladze, Finance Minister, Nodar Khaduri, told Imedi TV late on December 23 that instead of “digging into others’ biographies, Ugulava would better answer on questions related to GEL 70 million which he misspent” – reference to several criminal charges brought against Ugulava related to alleged misspending of municipal funds. Khaduri, who formally was Partskhaladze’s superior when the latter served as chief of the financial police, said he is not aware of Partskhaladze’s alleged criminal record, but added: “Partskhaladze has been working on various senior posts for past ten years… and he was also awarded with the Order of Honor” by former president Mikheil Saakashvili.
Gigi Ugulava called on the Justice Minister, Tea Tsulukiani, to ask the German authorities to provide all the relevant information about the criminal case in question. He also called on the government to suspend Partskhaladze from office, “before the society learns about the details of the criminal case for which he was convicted in Germany.”