Charges filed against Mikheil Saakashvili by the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia

2014-07-28 14:02:46

On 28 July, the Georgian Office of the Chief Prosecutor filed charges against former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili within the context of a number of ongoing investigations into abuses of power by high officials under the former regime. Mr. Saakashvili was in March 2014 summoned for questioning related to numerous ongoing criminal cases but refused to appear. At present, no warrant has been issued – or requested – for his arrest.

Investigations are ongoing against Mikheil Saakashvili, Ivane Merabishvili, Zurab Adeishvili, Davit Kezerashvili and Giorgi (Gigi) Ugulava under Article 333 §3 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which, in case of guilt, prescribes a prison term ranging from 5 to 8 years. 

The Office of the Chief Prosecutor acts independently of the Government of Georgia and has full autonomy to pursue cases as it sees fit without political interference.

Overview of case:

The Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia on 28 July filed charges against the former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. The criminal case pertains to the role of the then-President and associates in two incidents: (1) the violent dispersal of anti-governmental mass protests on 7 November 2007; and (2) raids conducted against the private TV Company IMEDI by riot police and the illegal take-over of the property of Arkadi Patarkatsishvili.

Together with Mikheil Saakashvili, Ivane Merabishvili, Former Minister of Interior; Zurab Adeishvili, Former Prosecutor General; Davit Kezerashvili, Former Minister of Defense; and Giorgi Ugulava, Former Mayor of Tbilisi, have also been indicted.

Results of investigation:

The investigations conducted by the Office of the Chief Prosecutor have found that, since its foundation, IMEDI TV Ltd. has been intensively broadcasting internal developments of Georgia. In 2006-2007, IMEDI TV covered highly sensitive issues which raised public concern. Among others, these issues included the high profile deaths under obscure circumstances of Sandro Girgvliani, Amiran Robakidze, Zurab Vazagashvili and Zurab Zhvania (the former Prime Minister). In September 2007, Irakli Okruashvili, the Former Minister of Defense of Georgia, claimed publicly that President Mikheil Saakashvili had ordered him to murder IMEDI TV owner Arkadi Patarkatsishvili. At that time, the government had no adequate response to the information released by IMEDI TV. This circumstance negatively reflected on the ratings of the ruling party, the United National Movement (UNM).

Following this, the Prosecutor’s Office has found that government representatives under the leadership of Mikheil Saakshvili began intense negotiations with Arkadi Patarkatsishvili for the handover of IMEDI TV. There is evidence that the government and its leader President Mikheil Saakashvili expressed readiness to exchange the Railway of Georgia for “IMEDI TV” upon the consent of Mr. Patarkatsishvili. The Railway of Georgia represented one of the most powerful assets in Georgia, but Patarkatsishvili rejected the government’s offer. Mr. Patarkatsishvili sought more guarantees in order to maintain TV Company. To this end, the management rights of IMEDI TV Ltd. were transferred to NEWS CORP EUROPE Inc., registered in the United States of America. Despite this move, it is alleged that continued critical coverage against the government and exposures of crimes by senior governmental officials led to increased pressure on Arkadi Patarkatsishvili and his family. All branches of government under the leadership of Mikheil Saakashvili were involved in this matter.

In November 2007, widespread public dissatisfaction led to mass demonstrations against the government. On 4 November 2007, upon the instructions of Mr. Saakashvili, an ad hoc meeting was arranged at the office of Ivane Merabishvili in the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. Mr. Merabishvili personally chaired the meeting in the presence of Zurab Adeishvili, the General Prosecutor, Davit Kezerashvili, the Minister of Defense, Davit Akhalaia, the Head of the Constitutional Security Department, Giorgi Ugulava, the Mayor of Tbilisi, and certain governors. At this meeting, the Prosecutor has evidence that it was decided to make a list of individuals participating in the mass protests with the intention to further identify potential targets to subject to threats, physical and psychological pressure. In addition, there is evidence that it was agreed that physical assault should have been applied against targets, while others would be arrested under various guises – including for possession of drugs which would be planted drugs.

The Prosecutor maintains that Davit Kezerashvili, the then Minister of Defense and former Head of Financial Police, was primarily responsible for ‘taking care’ of the businessmen supporting the opposition. Mr. Merabsivhili is understood to have quoted the following at the meeting: “A beaten man has no respect in Georgia and immediately loses influence. Create groups, beat them, aim for their kidneys, arrest, recruit, plant drugs on them. One Akhalaia brother will take care of them outside and the other Akhalaia brother will meet them inside.”

The alleged order on threatening, beating and arresting people issued by Ivane Merabishvili at the 4 November meeting was fulfilled on 7 November 2007 when the dispersal of anti-government demonstrators was ordered. 

Violent dispersal of demonstrators

The Prosecutor maintains that the violent dispersal of demonstrators at Rutaveli Avenue and Rike Vicinity on 7 November 2007 was based on an illegal order issued by then President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. It has been well-established that security officers used nonlethal weapon (rubber bullets), severely treated hundreds of citizens including the public defender, the members of different political parties and journalists. The special task officers physically assaulted frightened demonstrators who sheltered themselves in shops and pharmacies. On 7 November 2007, in the absence of any legal ground, the Armed Forces Staff of the Ministry of Defense of Georgia were deployed on a territory ranging from the Freedom Square to the Republic Square in Tbilisi. The deployment of the armed forces served to take control of this territory and avoid the renewed rally of citizens and any kind of demonstration.

Raid against IMEDI TV

In parallel to this, the Special Task Force of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia raided the TV Company IMEDI without any legal ground or warrant. The terrestrial broadcasting equipment of the station was destroyed and IMEDI TV went off air. The IMEDI TV staff members were forced to leave the building by physical coercion. In addition, the special task force officers severely treated the journalists and citizens who rallied around the TV Company in protest, including by using rubber bullets to force made them to abandon the site. Within approximately one month of the raid, representatives of the law enforcement authorities had taken control of the premises of IMEDI TV. The raid incurred damages to technical appliances and loss of income amounting to 3 158 307 GEL.

Thereafter, the Prosecutor alleges that, upon the instruction of the Head of State Mikheil Saakashvili, senior government officials launched procedures to illegally deprive Mr. Patarkatsishvili of the ownership of IMEDI TV. It is maintained that, in order to retrospectively create legal ground for justifying the raid on IMEDI TV, Ivane Merabishvili and Zurab Adeishvili exercised pressure on the Chairperson of the Georgian National Communications Commission, resulting in the suspension of the broadcast license of IMEDI TV. The suspension of the broadcast license of the TV Company was done in harsh violations of the Georgian Law on Broadcasting.

With the alleged intention of retrospectively creating a legal document dated 7 November 2007 that could justify the raid by the special task force, the Prosecutor has found that, on 10 November 2007, a criminal case was initiated – but falsely dated 7 November – and a motion for freezing the property of IMEDI TV was forwarded to the court. On 12 November, the judge issued the Ruling on the arrest of property dated 7 November. It is alleged that the Prosecutor General at that time indicted Arkadi Patarkatsishvili as part of a fake criminal case in the absence of any evidence and without legal ground. Subsequently, a warrant was issued for Mr. Patarkatsishvili. It is alleged that the Office of the Prosecutor General of Georgia presented a falsified conversation between Arkadi Patarkatsishvili and Erekle Kodua. This conversation has been established as out of context with amended content and edited audio recording. 

These developments led to strong condemnations from the international community, questioning the conduct of Mikheil Saakashvili, Head of the State and his government. Despite this, the Prosecutor alleges that, upon the order of Mikheil Saakashvili and with the involvement of senior governmental officials including Gigi Ugulava, Davit Kezerashvili and others, the TV Company IMEDI was eventually seized from the ownership of Patarkatsishvili’s family by force.

Namely, in a week after A. Patarkatsishvili’s death, precisely on February 19, 2008, Giorgi Jaoshvili, a person entrusted by A. Patarkatsishvili, was forced to reregister his share in JSC JMG CONSULTING GROUP (the company that owned TV IMEDI) in the name of the businessman Joseph Kay. The share reregistration took place in violation of the statute of the company and was officially registered by the notary Meri Bubashvili. Moreover, the representatives of the Military Police, acting upon the instructions of Davit Kezerashvili, as well as other government officials, managed and supervised the share reregistration process on site. On the same day, Giorgi Jaoshvili was brought at the building of the Financial Police, whereby the latter was forced to resign from the position of the Chairperson of the Supervisory Board of TV IMEDI’s founder companies. In this manner, A. Patarkatsishvili’s family was finally moved off from the TV Company. The next day, the share in TV IMEDI was transferred for 5 years term with management rights to Paata Siradze – a person closely related to Davit Kezerashvili. In addition, the management right of NEWS CORP EUROPE INC. in TV IMEDI Ltd., was unilaterally terminated.

Thereafter, the government took control of the TV Company, with senior officials including Gigi Ugulava entirely directing and controlling the information policy of the channel.

On 18 October 2012, following the change of government after the October Election, Giorgi Arveladze, Giorgi Korakhashvili and Giorgi Mikeladze, all three with strong personal connections to the former government, returned 90% of the shares of the TV Company IMEDI to Mr. Patarkatsishvili’s family.

Further pressure on IMEDI TV owner

The Prosecutor has evidence that the previous government and its head Mikheil Saakashvili exercised pressure on Patarkatsishvili’s family not only in respect with IMEDI TV; the government also deprived Patarkatsishvili’s family of its ownership of “MTATSMINDA PARK”. Specifically, on 7 November 2007, as the demonstrators were dispersed at Rustaveli Avenue, upon order of the Minister of Interior, armed special task officers raided “MTATSMINDA PARK” without legal ground and illegally forced the staff of “MTATSMINDA PARK” to leave the premises. The same day, a press conference was held at Tbilisi City Hall about the alleged failure of “LINX” Ltd., to pay lease rent of “MTATSMINDA PARK”. Subsequently, it is alleged that the government of Tbilisi unilaterally and illegally terminated the contract while Mr. Patarkatsishvili’s company met undertaken obligations in good faith and there was no legal ground for the termination of contract. For this, the Parliament of Georgia specially amended the Law of Georgia on Entrepreneurs; this resulted in the appointment of Giorgi Kirtskhaia, a friend of Giorgi Ugulava, to the position of Director of “LINX” Ltd. Mr. Kirtskhaia withdrew all the claims filed by the company against Tbilisi City Hall from the court.

The Prosecutor has evidence of other examples of pressure mounted on Mr. Patarkatsishvili’s family by Mikheil Saakashvili and government representatives, including the seizure of Rustavi Metallurgical Plant. By different means, with the application of pressure and use of threats, and by means of false contracts and documents it was claimed that the owner company of Rustavi Metallurgical Plant was indebted to the offshore company controlled by Davit Kezerashvili. Therefore, the National Enforcement Bureau and the Court transferred the property of Rustavi Metallurgical Plant belonging to Mr. Patarkatsishvili to the ownership of Davit Kezerashvili’s offshore company with the aim of offsetting the supposed debts.

The illegal acts perpetrated by the government under the leadership of Mikheil Saakashvili against Arkadi Patarkatsishvili’s family led Inna Gudavadze, the spouse of Mr. Patarkatsishvili initiate litigation at the International Chamber of Commerce and request the return of the illegally seized property by the government of Georgia or compensation amounting to 400,000,000 USD. There is evidence that the former government officials and their head Mikheil Saakashvili became convinced that they would certainly lose the case at the International Chamber of Commerce. Therefore, Tina Burjaliani, the Deputy Minister of Justice, acting on behalf of the government at that time, concluded a memorandum with the family. Pursuant to this memorandum, all the properties except for IMEDI TV were returned to the family.   


The Prosecutor maintains that the illegal activates of the former government representatives of Georgia and its head Mikheil Saakashvili resulted in the breach of the following rights: the right to property of Arkadi Patarkatsishvili and his family; the freedom of assembly and manifestation of citizens. Furthermore, numerous citizens received different bodily injuries and the activities of independent media were illegally interfered and obstructed. The above-mentioned resulted in substantial violation of legitimate rights of natural and legal persons as well as the society and the state.

Upon the Indictments issued against Mikheil Saakashvili, Ivane Merabishvili, Zurab Adeishvili, Davit Kezerashvili and Giorgi Ugulava, the mentioned persons are charged with the excess of official authority.

The investigation is ongoing under Article 333 §3 of the Criminal Code of Georgia that prescribes the deprivation of liberty for the term from 5 to 8 years as the type and size of penalty. 

Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia reports that the investigation into other criminal cases announced by the Prosecutor’s Office is at the final stage. Mikheil Saakashvili has recently been summoned on those cases in the capacity of witness. The public will be informed about the results in the nearest future.