Four employees of the Ministry of Defense and general staff of the armed forces, who are on trial in so called “cable case”, have been reinstated to their jobs, the MoD said.
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. They deny charges.
This co called “cable case” led to 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. It resulted in Alasania’s Free Democrats leaving the GD coalition in November, 2014. Alasania has been denouncing investigation against the MoD officials as “politically motivated”.
All five men spent almost eight months in pre-trial detention before being released in June after the prosecution dropped its objection against their release.
After the court ordered pre-trial detention, four serving officials (the fifth one – former head of procurements unit – was no longer MoD employee at the time of the arrest) were suspended from office. Two of them served in MoD’s procurements unit and two others in general staff’s communications and IT department.
Defense Minister, Tina Khidasheli, wrote in a Facebook post on August 12 that after court’s decision to release MoD officials from pre-trial detention, there was no legal ground any more for keeping them suspended from office, as a result they were reinstated.
“Guilty or innocent – that’s not up to the Ministry of Defense to judge; it will be determined by the court,” she said, referring to still ongoing trial into the “cable case”.
Free Democrats opposition party and its leader Irakli Alasania welcomed MoD’s decision. Alasania said in a statement that the five men are “innocent victims of fabricated ‘cable case’.”