Chief Prosecutor’s Office files more charges against MoD officials

Building of the Georgian Chief Prosecutors Office in Tbilisi; Photo by N. Alavidze /, 04 Nov 2014 - 18:33, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has once again been brought into the public spotlight after the Chief Prosecutors Office announced negligence charges against several Ministry officials today.

Click here to see more details about previous charges against Ministry officials.

This afternoon the Prosecutor’s Office said six men – three Defence Ministry high officials and three employees of the company in charge of the army’s nutrition – would soon be charged for negligence, which resulted in about 860 military servants being poisoned by unhygienic food on ten different occasions in 2013.

Moreover, the Prosecutor’s Office said they were currently investigating another case where the Defence Ministry allegedly misspent state money through a poorly carried out tender. The Office said the case was classified as secret by the Ministry so no further details would be available for publication but noted investigators had found suspicious ties between Ministry officials and managers of the tender-winning company.

Meanwhile controversy was continuing about the earlier case where four current and one former high MoD officials were arrested for allegedly misspending 4.1 million GEL on October 28.

This charge was filed by the Prosecutor’s Office when Defence Minister Irakli Alasania was abroad on a foreign visit. After returning home, Alasania said he was confident of his employees’ innocence and would meet the Prime Minister and the Parliament Speaker to discuss the case.

Earlier today before the Prosecutor’s Office announced the second criminal investigation related to the MoD, Minister Alasania met Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili and discussed the earlier arrests of Defence officials.

Meanwhile on Monday evening, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili met with Alasania and lawmakers from the Defence Minister’s political party Free Democrats.

Alasania is a leader of the Free Democrats party, which is one of the members of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition.

On another note, Deputy Defence Minister Aleksi Batiashvili, who was questioned at the Chief Prosecutor’s Office in connection with the Ministry officials’ accusation yesterday, did not sign the protocol of interrogation. His lawyer said Batiashvili’s answers were not fully recorded in the transcript so he refused to sign the document.

In response, the Prosecutor’s Office today issued a written statement saying the interrogation had been conducted over an eight-hour period in compliance with Georgian laws relating to interrogating a witness.

"Eventually, as it appeared, [Batiashvili] had no answers to the questions asked,” the statement read.

"At the end of the interrogation process, witness Aleksi Batiashvili showed an indeterminate attitude and refused to sign the protocol of interrogation drawn up based on the testimony given by him.”

The Office has since expressed its willingness for Batiashvili to be repeatedly interrogated as a witness.

"In such case, we believe he would be more prepared for a meeting with investigators, since he already knows the questions of the investigation,” the Office said.

Broadly speaking all details of the case were classified. The Defence Ministry wanted the case declassified in order to make the investigation process transparent. For declassification, the Defence Ministry needed conformation from the Interior Ministry however the latter said it first needed to review all documents connected to this case.

The documents were currently being kept at the Chief Prosecutor’s Office. The Defence Ministry asked the Office to provide the Interior Ministry with the documents, after which the Defence Ministry would be able to declassify details of the controversial case.