The Prosecutor’s office said on Thursday that it will file a request to the court asking to release ex-MoD officials from pretrial detention, whose arrest last year triggered a major split within the ruling GD coalition.
The motion is expected to be heard by the Tbilisi City Court on June 19.
One former and four serving officials from MoD and general staff were arrested on October 28, 2014 and charged with misspending GEL 4.1 million in an alleged sham tender in 2013 on laying fiber-optic cable.
The case led to major split within the Georgian Dream (GD) ruling coalition and the firing of Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, followed by resignations of his two allies from cabinet posts. All these events resulted in Alasania’s Free Democrats leaving the GD coalition.Throughout this period Alasania has been denouncing investigation against the MoD officials as “politically motivated” and saying that the arrested former officials were ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s “personal prisoners.”
The announcement by the prosecutor’s office comes 40 days before the expiration of the nine-month pretrial detention period.
Alasania said on June 18 that the prosecutors’ decision to drop objections against the release of ex-officials was an attempt to “save face” as defense lawyers were planning to file similar motion and there was no reason for the judge to decline it.
Prosecutor’s office said that as all the evidence had already been submitted to the court, there was no longer a risk of possible attempt by the accused men to “influence” witnesses or to otherwise tamper with evidence.
The trial, informally known as the “cable case”, is now at its preliminary or pre-trial hearing stage, when a judge decides on the admissibility of evidence submitted by the parties and hears various motions from the parties.
Earlier this month the Tbilisi City Court ruled in favor of the defense’s motion and found a key piece of prosecution’s evidence – an expert report assessing the engineering and other aspects of the fiber-optic cable project – inadmissible. But the prosecution appealed the ruling and the Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s decision.