The Georgian Office of the Chief Prosecutor today filed new criminal charges against former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili and former Minister of Interior Ivane Merabishvili under Article 333 §3 of the Criminal Code of Georgia. The charges allege the direct responsibility of the then President and Minister of Interior for ordering the 2005 violent beating of MP Valeri Gelashvili. The victim suffered serious injuries, including brain damage and multiple fractures.
Article 333 §3 of the Criminal Code of Georgia prescribes in case of guilt a prison term ranging from 3 to 8 years.
Overview of incident and charges:
The investigation conducted by the Office of the Chief Prosecutor has ascertained the following:
On June 29, 2005, the newspaper Rezonansi published an interview with Valeri Gelashvili, then Member of Georgian Parliament, entitled “Valeri Gelashvili will Yield His House in Favour of Saakashvili”. Gelashvili claimed that his property has been unlawfully confiscated without compensation. In the same newspaper interview, Gelashvili spoke about the private life of Mikheil Saakashvili, in a manner which could be considered insulting.
There is evidence that after the publication of the interview, Saakashvili sought to retaliate against Gelashvili and ordered Irakli Okruashvili, the then Minister of Defence of Georgia, to arrange for a physical attack against the MP. According to testimony from Okruashvili, he refused to comply with the order. The Prosecutor has evidence that Saakashvili thereafter instructed Ivane Merabishvili, the then Minister of Interior of Georgia, to execute this assault on Gelashvili.
The Prosecutor has evidence that, after receiving the said instructions, Merabishvili ordered Erekle Kodua, the then Head of the Special Operative Department and subordinated to the Minister of Interior, to carry out the beating of Gelashvili.
It has been established that on July 14, 2005, Valeri Gelashvili was driving together with his bodyguard and a business associate in the vicinity of the Mirtskhulava Street in Tbilisi when armed officers of the Special Operations Department together with the officers of the Special Task Force blocked his vehicle and launched a physical attack on him and his companions: Upon instruction from Kodua and under the guidance of Giorgi Siradze, then Head of the Unit at the Special Operations Department, the Special Task Force officers forced Gelashvili and his companions out of their car under the gun threat. Gelashvili was forced to the ground and brutally beaten up with firearm butts.
As a result of the attack, Gelashvili suffered traumatic brain injury, multiple fractures of facial bones, open wounds in the area of the nose and forehead, and fractures of the upper and lower jawbones.
A formal investigation into the attack against Gelashvili was launched on July 14, 2005. No effective investigation was however undertaken and the case remained unsolved.
On April 24, 2014, the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia announced criminal charges under Article 333 §3 and 237 §4 of the Criminal Code of Georgia against Erekle Kodua and Giorgi Siradze for their alleged role in the incident.