‘Motive identified’ in Georgia-Azerbaijan ‘land forfeit’ case

  • The prosecution says that detainees in the high-profile border case acted per the demands of their superiors. Photo: Mtavari Arkhi. 

Agenda.ge, 20 Jan 2021 - 16:43, Tbilisi,Georgia

The prosecution says that a motive has been identified in the high-profile Georgia-Azerbaijan border case, which saw two former officials detained last year for allegedly withholding materials from a border agreement with Azerbaijan under the United National Movement government in 2006-2007. 

Prosecutors said earlier today that former officials Iveri Melashvili and Natalia Ilichova ‘acted deliberately, per the demands of their superiors.’ 

Prosecutors have not identified the superiors, but said that they have ‘audio-video materials proving the motive.’ 

They said that details will be released in the coming days. 

Melashvili and Ilichova were detained last year and have been accused of withholding materials from a border agreement with Azerbaijan that, according to the Chief Prosecutor’s Office, led to the forfeit of about 3,500 hectares of lands against Georgia’s interests.

The case also concerns the sections of Georgia's 6th century David Gareji monastery complex. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge.

None of the detainees admit to the crime and say that the maps were ‘worthless’ and were rejected in 2006-2007.  

Melashvili and Ilichova have been denied bail. 

Their next trial date is scheduled for January 28. 

An official statement of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office says that Melashvili, the former head of the Department for Border Relations with Neighbouring Countries and Ilichova, former Chief Inspector of the Land Border Protection Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, hid the original map of 1938 from the border commission members (which was chaired by Melashvili) and instead used a 1970-80 map in the process of demarcating the border.

Since the collapse of Soviet Union back in 1991, out of its four neighboring states Georgia has agreed upon its borders only with Turkey.

Only two-thirds of the state border has been agreed upon with Azerbaijan so far, which on several occasions triggered tension in David Gareji back in 2019.