New torture charges for ex-Defence Minister

Bacho Akhalaia has been accused of organizing sexual violence and abuse of official power, 02 Jul 2014 - 17:48, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office have brought new charges against the country’s former Defence Minister Bachana (Bacho) Akhalaia today.

Akhalaia has today been accused of organizing sexual violence and abuse of official power, relating to the death of Sergo Tetradze.

A statement released by the Georgian authorities said Akhalaia was involved in torturing innocent citizens for the purpose of obtaining a person’s name. This torture ultimately led to the death of Tetradze.

The statement said Akhalaia and another person (the deputy head of the Military Police Department and the Director of No.8 Correction Facility Alexandre Mukhadze) decided to obtain confessions by torturing innocent citizens for the purpose of gaining the name of a successful manager. Akhalaia and Mukhadze wanted to spread their testimonies through mass media, as if they identified the so-called "espionage” group.

The investigation revealed in September 2011 in the Military Police Department building, Akhalaia, Mukhadze, Megis Kardava and several officers of the Military Police severely assaulted and humiliated officers of the Ministry of Defence - Lieutenant-Colonel Davit Londaridze, Reserve Colonel Sergo Tetradze and citizens Sergey Chapligin and Giorgi Gorelashvili. Their assault lasted four to five hours and had the purpose of obtaining confessions of espionage.

The Prosecutor’s Office claimed at the time of the torture, Akhalaia took a gun and set it against Lieutenant-Colonel Londaridze’s face and threatened to kill him if he did not confess to committing the crime.

After this Kardava threatened Lieutenant-Colonel Londaridze with sexual violence. The victim was extremely weak after being severely beaten and was forced to accept the demands of his attackers, and falsely confessed to committing a crime of espionage against Georgia.

In order to get the next confession, Akhalaia consented for Kardava and officers of the Military Police to physically and verbally abuse Giorgi Gorelashvili for a whole day.

The Prosecutor’s Office alleged Gorelashvili was beaten continuously with a plastic pipe. His attackers threatened to cut off his fingers with a large wire cutting scissor and put his fingers between the blades of the scissors to intimidate him. Afterwards they tied something to his neck and forced him to crawl along the corridor of the building. When Gorelashvili refused to confess to a crime he did not commit, his attackers transferred him to a temporary isolation cell and accused him of espionage.

The Prosecution said the men also verbally abused Sergo Tetradze and placed a polyethylene bag over his head and prevented him from breathing, with the aim of obtaining a false confession. Despite the severe attack, Tetradze did not admit the crime. For this reason, Akhalaia and Kardava organized Tetradze to be further tortured and sexually attacked.

This plan came into action on September 23, 2011, when prisoners in N.8 prison Aleksi Terashvili and Tamaz Sisauri were involved in sexually violating Tetradze in a prison cell. Tetradze became gravely ill and died a short time later without regaining consciousness.

Those responsible for torture - Kardava, N.8 prison director Mukhadze and employees of the prison Viktor Kacheishvili and Oleg Patsatsia – have already been sentenced with deprivation of liberty and must serve nine years imprisonment.

As for Akhalaia, the instigator of the crime, the charges against him foresee a prison sentence of nine to 15 years.

Akhalaia has also been charged in relation to several other cases including another case of torture to gain a confession and providing privileged conditions in jail to four former Interior Ministry officers who were convicted for murdering Sandro Girgvliani.