Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office has officially filed criminal charges against ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili today, July 28.
The criminal case pertains to violent dispersal of an anti-governmental mass protests on November 7, 2007, unlawful raiding of Imedi television company by riot police and illegal take-over of property owned by late media tycoon Badri (Arkadi) Patarkatsishvili.
Saakashvili, ex-Prime Minister and former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, former Prosecutor General Zurab Adeishvili, former Minister of Defence Davit Kezerashvili and former Mayor of Tbilisi Giorgi Ugulava were also indicted.
In a special statement today the Chief Prosecutor's Office said the investigation against Saakashvili and his co-offenders was ongoing under Article 333 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which prescribed the deprivation of liberty and had a prison sentence from five to eight years.
The Prosecutor's Office revealed several criminal cases in which the former president was somehow connected, among them being the invasion of high ranking officials in an independent Imedi television building in February 2008 where police organised a raid and the TV station was illegally acquired.
Furthermore, Saakashvili is connected with various illegal actions towards Badri (Arkadi) Patarkatsishvili, which resulted in a top-secret agreement between the Patarkatsishvili family and the-then Georgian Government on July 6, 2011. The secret document was published in January by the new Government of Georgia.
Authorities also want to question Saakashvili in relation to another case involving the embezzlement of slightly more than 8.8 million GEL state funds belonging to the Special State Security from 2009 to 2012.
Law enforcement agencies said upon the instruction of Saakashvili as the head of the state, senior government officials launched procedures to illegally obtain the ownership of Imedi TV from Patarkatsishvili.
"Ivane Merabishvili and Zurab Adeishvili exercised pressure on the chairperson of the Georgian National Communications Commission. In result of which, the broadcast license of TV IMEDI had been suspended in harsh violation of the Georgian Law on Broadcasting,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.
Following Saakashvili's order, senior governmental officials including Gigi Ugulava, Davit Kezerashvili and others forcefully seized Imedi TV from Patarkatsishvili’s family by threatening the family and exercising pressure on them. According to investigation, former Mayor Gigi Ugulava entirely directed and controlled information policy of the channel.
The Prosecutor’s Office also accused ex-president Saakashvili for unlawfully dispersing a demonstration on November 7, 2007.
The Prosecutor’s Office said an illegal order made by Saakashvili saw law enforcement officers use unlawful methods to disperse demonstrators on Rustaveli Ave and Rike vicinity.
Investigators said officers illegally used nonlethal weapons (rubber bullets), severely handled 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,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.
In March Saakashvili was summoned to be questioned on the above cases in the capacity of a witness but he did not show up.His lawyer, Otar Kakhidze, said the Prosecutor’s Office intended to charge Saakashvili and the fact he had been summoned to be questioned first was a "hypocrisy".
The lawyer argued that if the investigative body had enough materials to charge the former president, they should do so and not summon him for questioning additionally, as this was a violation of the law.
"The summoning was appointed for 11am while after three hours, at 2pm they imposed the charge resolution. This means that they were initially planning to impose charges,” Kakhidze said. He said he would study the evidence provided by the Prosecutor’s Office and make a statement once he had looked over the documents. He did not exclude an international search for Saakashvili could start.
The Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia said the investigation into other criminal cases announced by the Prosecutor’s Office was in its final stage.