Chief Prosecutor’s Office charges two ex-officials for torturing late businessman

Besarion Khardziani was shot dead in 2015., 05 May 2016 - 16:39, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has charged two former officials with torturing and illegally appropriating valuable property from a now-deceased local businessman.

Today the Office filed charges against Giorgi Udesiani and former head of #8 Prison Aleksandre Mukhadze for the torture and illegal seizure of several properties, worth $2.27 million dollars, from Besarion Khardziani.

The crimes were allegedly committed in 2011 during the rule of the previous United National Movement government.

Udesiani, one of the accused, and the victim Khardziani had a good relationship that turned sour, said the Prosecutor’s Office today.

Udesiani and Khardziani were joint shareholders of real estate at Turtle Lake in Tbilisi.  In 2011 Udesiani decided he wanted complete ownership of the property and came up with an elaborate "criminal plan” to deceive Khardziani out of his shares.

That same year Khardziani was detained for purchase and possession of drugs and was sent to #8 Prison, which was run by Udesiani’s friend and co-accused Mukhadze. 

Following Udesiani’s request, the prison chief placed two inmates in Khardziani’s cell, who then went on to physically and psychologically torture Kharzdiani. The attacks left Kharzdiani with permanent physical and psychological effects. The violence was inflicted on Kharzdiani to pressure him to give his property shares to Udesiani, claimed the Prosecutor’s Office. 

While in prison a third inmate allegedly forced Khardziani to engage in gambling. A bet was placed and the loser must invite the fellow players to dinner once they were all released. Ultimately Khardziani lost the bet but instead of inviting his fellow inmates to his self-owned restaurant, he was forced to surrender ownership of the restaurant. 

This led to a dispute between Khardziani and the inmate who forced him to gamble. The gambler suggested Khardziani should write a letter to a "criminal boss” who would solve the dispute. A letter was written however it was handed to the prison chief. 

Mukhadze replied to the letter and stated Khardziani must pay $800,000 to the gambler inmate. The gambler said in exchange of the money Khardziani must give the Turtle Lake property to Udesiani, otherwise he would be raped. 

Meanwhile in Tbilisi Udesiani met Khardziani’s brother, who also had shares in the Turtle Lake property. Udesiani physically abused the brother and threatened him, saying he would be raped or killed in prison alongside his brother if he did not surrender his shares. 

Due to the heavy psychological and physical pressure, the Khardziani family surrendered all of their shares to Udesiani. 

  • The main victim, Besarion Khardziani, spent nearly two years in prison, during which he said he was treated inhumanely and faced extreme hardship. The businessman was released during a large-scale amnesty carried out by the Georgian Dream Government in 2013. 
  • Khardziani, who was actively campaigning against UNM, was shot dead near his apartment on March 28, 2015. 

In January 2016 two men – a Russian and a Ukrainian – were charged with his murder however the motive of the crime or those who ordered the murder still remained unclear.