Ex-Interior Minister Merabishvili faces new sentence for attack on opposition MP in 2005

Georgia’s former Interior Minister Ivane Merabishvili faces new charges. Photo by Reuters.
Agenda.ge, 22 Sep 2016 - 14:09, Tbilisi,Georgia

Three former police officials have been sentenced to several years behind bars for physically assaulting and robbing an opposition politician Valeri Gelashvili in 2005, under the previous United National Movement (UNM) government.

Today Tbilisi City Court imposed a prison sentence of six years and nine months to Georgia’s ex-Minister of Internal Affairs Ivane (Vano) Merabishvili, for organising the assault on opposition lawmaker Valeri Gelashvili. The verdict also stated Merabishvili cannot hold an official post for two years and three months following his release.

Merabishvili is currently in prison on other charges, related to the brutal murder of Sandro Girgvliani under UNM authorities. 

Meanwhile Tbilisi City Court imposed a nine year prison sentence to ex-head of the Special Operative Department (SOD) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Erekle Kodua, and ex-chairman of a division of SOD Gia Siradze for their involvement in the 2005 crime.

The pair were found guilty of inflicting life-threatening injuries on Gelashvili and robbing him. The Court said they stole "expensive personal belongings and a large amount of cash” from their victim.  

Kodua and Siradze were also forbidden to take an official position for two years and three months following their release.

Kodua is currently on the run. 

Georgia’s ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, who now serves as Odessa Governor in Ukraine, has also been charged for ordering and organising the attack on Gelashvili.

The incident was investigated by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of the current Government. Two years ago the Office said Saakashvili ordered the attack on Gelashvili after he was interviewed by a local newspaper on June 29, 2005. In the interview Gelashvili commented on the personal life of Saakashvili and the construction of the former President’s residence.

Gelashvili, who now is a lawmaker for the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) parliamentary majority, also accused Saakashvili of unlawfully confiscating his property without compensation. 

The Prosecutor’s Office said Saakashvili ordered the then Minister of Defence Irakli Okruashvili to physically abuse Gelashvili however Okruashvili refused.

Saakashvili then instructed Merabishvili to attack Gelashvili. Merabishvili accepted the offer and together with Kodua and his staff, carried out the attack on Gelashvili on July 14, 2005.

Gelashvili was left with life-threatening injuries; he has since recovered after long and expensive treatment in Georgia and abroad.