UNM lawmaker, Ronal Akhalaia, has been charged on two counts of exceeding official powers while serving as chief prosecutor of Samegrelo region in 2009, the prosecutor’s office said on April 11.
Charges were pressed a week after the Parliament passed a legislative amendment paving the way for prosecutors to file criminal charges against a lawmaker without the need to seek legislative body’s approve. Prosecutors will still require Parliament’s approval if they decide to detain MP Akhalaia; a statement by prosecutor’s office does not specify whether it would file such a request with the Parliament or not.
Prosecutors claim that while serving as chief prosecutor of Samegrelo region in 2009, Roland Akhalaia made relatives of accused persons to transfer on an account of a private firm GEL 150,000 in one case and GEL 60,000 in another case in exchange of plea bargaining deals.
Akhalaia, who is a majoritarian MP elected from Zugdidi constituency, denies accusations; he said after being charged on April 11 that it is part of the authorities’ “political persecution against me and my family.”
Roland Akhalaia is father of former defense minister Bacho Akhalaia, who remains behind bars since November, 2012; Bacho Akhalaia was acquitted in two trials and found guilty in the third one, but pardoned last year by then president Mikheil Saakashvili; several trials into some other charges against Bacho Akhalaia, who remains in pretrial detention, are still pending.
Akhalaia’s other son, former senior interior ministry official, Data Akhalaia, was found guilty by the Tbilisi City Court of exceeding official authority in a case related to beating of policemen in 2005 and sentenced to 3 years and 9 months in jail in absentia; Data Akhalaia remains at large.