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Georgian prosecutors press new charges against ex-President Saakashvili

August 05, 2014, 18:47 UTC+3 TBILISI
The Georgian Main Prosecutor’s Office accuses Saakashvili and ex-Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili of organizing an assault on lawmaker Valery Gelalishvili
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© ITAR-TASS/Maxim Nikitin

TBILISI, August 05. /ITAR-TASS/. Georgian prosecutors pressed new charges on Tuesday against country’s former President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is already faced with power abuse charges.

The Georgian Main Prosecutor’s Office accuses Saakashvili and ex-Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili of organizing an assault on lawmaker Valery Gelalishvili, who was brutally beaten on July 14, 2005 in the country’s capital of Tbilisi.

Prosecutors claim that in June of 2005 “Saakashvili ordered then-Defense Minister Irakly Okruashvili to make an exemplary punishment of Valery Gelalishvili, who earlier in an interview with a local newspaper expressed dissatisfaction with his property’s confiscation and spoke about Saakashvili’s private life in an insulting manner.”

“Okruashvili refused to carry out this order and then Saakashvili asked [former] Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili to do the same and he [Merabishvili] followed the instructions,” the Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.

The statement said that on July 14, 2005, law enforcers from the Interior Ministry and a special task police unit “blocked Gelalishvili’s car on one of Tbilisi’s central streets, dragged him out, as well as persons escorting him, and brutally beaten Gelalishvili, who subsequently sustained numerous injuries.”

On July 28, prosecutors charged Saakashvili with abuse of power claiming that on November 7, 2011 he ordered policemen to disperse by force people rallying in Tbilisi. Hundreds of demonstrators were beaten up as a result. Georgian riot police also burst into the Imedi television company, beating its staff and visitors.

The Tbilisi Municipal Court ordered on August 2 a pre-trial detention for Saakashvili in response to a relevant motion from the Main Prosecutor’s Office.

“In recent months Saakashvili repeatedly ignored Main Prosecutor Office’s calls to appear as a witness in a number of important court trials and then refused distant questioning via Skype,” a spokesman for the Prosecutor’s Office said following the court’s order late last Friday.

The Main Prosecutor’s Office announced in March that Saakashvili had been summoned as a witness over a number of cases, in particular, over the case of the death of Georgian prime minister Zurab Zhvania, the case of a special operation to suppress the rebellion of a battalion of Georgia’s armed forces in Mukhrovani in 2009, illegal actions against the family of businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili and other cases.

Saakashvili’s lawyer Otari Kokhidze said the Tbilisi court’s ruling on Friday was “ungrounded” and that the defense of the former Georgian president would appeal the decision in higher court establishments.

Saakashvili was earlier reported to be mostly staying in Ukraine, where he allegedly worked since the beginning of the year as an unofficial adviser to the Ukrainian government.

Less than a week ago he spoke with Georgia’s Rustavi-2 television channel from Hungary’s Budapest and called prosecutors’ investigation against him as biased.

“Someone is obviously dismayed by my current activity in connection with events in Ukraine,” Saakashvili said adding that he did not plan to wrap up his current political activities.

“I recently visited Albania and now I am in Hungary at Prime Minister Victor Orban’s invitation and I plan visiting a number of other countries as well in the near future,” Saakashvili said. “I am not seeking any political asylums as I do not need this.”

Last Friday, in another interview with Rustavi-2, but this time from New York, Saakashvili said he had no intentions of cooperating with the Georgian investigative authorities and appearing for questioning.

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