Mukhrovani case convicts demand answers

President Saakashvili talks with soldiers who took part in a mutiny at the Mukhrovani military base on May 5, 2009. Photo: EPA, 30 Jan 2014 - 11:38, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian men accused and convicted in the Mukhrovani case are demanding answers and re-investigation of their cases. 

Their requests were in response to the release of a scandalous video which showed details of a special operation by the former government.

In the video, which was uploaded to youtube about midnight last night, Georgia’s former Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili addressed people in military uniform and said he needed "two dead bodies” in exchange for a "high bonus". Merabishvili is currently being held in pre-trial detention for an issue relating to when he was the Interior Minister. 

Major Levan Amiridze, who was convicted for the Mukhrovani mutiny, said the three military men who shot him and two others received 12 000 GEL each. He said everyone who participated in the operation still held leading positions within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. 

"I know from my comrades that when we were arrested VanoMerabishvili asked them why they did not murder us. He said to shoot us and then set it up as if they were going to run away,” Amiridze said on Kavkasia TV.

He confirmed the video was taken on May 5, 2009 outside the Mukhrovani military base. He said he personally knew all the people seen in the video and they were high officials from the Defence and Interior Ministries. 

Today, details of the covert operation were also recalled by Colonel Koba Otanadze, who was also convicted once he recovered from gunshot injuries he sustained in the event. 

Otanadze said military men were ordered to ‘shoot to the death’. The men were shot from behind and as they lay wounded on the ground, special unit officers beat them violently. Otanadze and Major Amiridze survived but General Giorgi Krialadze died at the scene. 

Otanadze said now the video had been released, everybody could see how the scenario was staged and there were no riots.

"They are murderers. They killed everyone who was even a little against [them]. They killed whoever they wanted,” Otanadze said. 

Another man convicted in the case, Koba Kobaladze, said he was shot nine times and Amiridze was shot seven times. He believed they were targeted soon after the Vano Merabishvili made the statement that he wanted "two dead bodies”.   

Kobaladze, Otanadze and everyone convicted in the case demand a new investigation to be launched to find out what really happened.  

Multiple former high officials can be seen in the video including former Minister of Justice Zurab Adeishvili, ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili and the suspended Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava. Furthermore the video showed former head of the Constitutional Security Department Data Akhalaia and former head of the Criminal Police Erekle Kodua participating in the operation.

The personal photographer of the ex-president, Irakli Gedenidze said the video was made by the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ cameramen.  

Mutiny broke out when the Mukrovani tank Battalion disobeyed orders after the government announcement it had uncovered a ‘Russian-backed plot’ to destabilize Georgia and assassinate President Saakashvili. Later, Georgian authorities retracted their accusations of an assassination plot and allegations of Russian support.

The Prosecutor's Office said it was aware of the scandalous video and would investigate the incident.