Koba Kharshiladze, a former head of the Old Tbilisi district, was arrested in a courtroom on December 24 after the Court of Appeals ordered his pre-trial detention, overruling lower court’s decision last week releasing Kharshiladze on GEL 400,000 bail.
Kharshiladze and former head of the Old Tbilisi district, Lasha Purtskhvanidze, were charged last week with illegal entrepreneurship related to their company Greenservice, which was a contractor of the Tbilisi municipality providing the capital city with range of planting services. The company and its controversial deals with the municipality came into public attention last spring when allegations about over-inflated contract costs emerged.
Detention of Kharshiladze made headlines in Georgia not because of specific charges that were brought against him, but mainly because of his past tenure before becoming an official in the Tbilisi municipality. Kharshiladze was chief bodyguard of PM Zurab Zhvania at the time when the latter was found dead in February, 2005.
“All these are related to my previous work as chief of security of late Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and now they [the authorities] want to fabricate some kind of absurd,” Kharshiladze said earlier on December 24 before the ruling by the Court of Appeals.
Kharshiladze and Purtskhvanidze were arrested on December 16, but the Tbilisi City Court released both of them on GEL 400,000 bail each. Both the defense and the prosecution took the case in the Court of Appeals with the defense requesting to reduce amount of the bail and the prosecution insisting on sending the two men to pre-trial detention.
Also earlier on December 24 it was reported that the prosecution was going to back its claim in favor of pre-trial detention for Kharshiladze by claiming that the latter booked an air ticket to flee the country. Kharshiladze was denying booking ticket, saying that it was a hoax by the prosecution to justify motion for his pre-trial detention. His defense lawyer said Kharshiladze was ordered to surrender his passport and could not have traveled abroad even if he wanted to; the lawyers said Kharshiladze would not have booked a flight ticket if he wanted to leave the country and would have simply gone to Turkey as it is possible to cross the border with Turkey just with an ID card.