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Former MIA Head denies drug, weapons possession

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, November 20
“No one should be detained over friendships and political views in Georgia,” Former Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) General Inspection Tengiz Gunava said on Monday. Gunava, who was accused of the possession of illegal drugs and weapons charges, held his first press conference at Prime Time’s club after his release on 10, 000 GEL bail.

Saying he is “a victim” of illegal detention for his friendship with the former Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia, Gunava thinks that the new government disliked him for his active support of the United National Movement (UNM).

Recollecting the night of his detention on November 16, Gunava demanded the punishment of the MIA’s Criminal Department officials who participated in an activity against him. According to Gunava, policemen told him they had an order from “above” but did not specify the names of officials ordering the detention of the former Head of the General Inspection.

Gunava said a weapon was planted and he was forced to drink water containing morphine. Expressing his negative approach towards the drugs in general, Gunava said he did not even attend the funerals of his brother who died from drug-usage.

His lawyer Malkhaz Velijanashvili said they have identified the people who planted the gun and drugs.

To prove that he does not use drugs, Gunava took a drug test at Levan Samkharauli National Forensic Bureau; its results will become known in about 2 weeks.

But Minister of Internal Affairs, Irakli Garibashvili, said Gunava was under the influence of drugs. Highlighting that every detention carried out in the last period were legal, Garibashvili promised that his team is oriented on fairness, legitimacy and humanism.

“We will not break the law, on the contrary we are maximally trying to eradicate the injustice which was present during the nine years [of UNM governance],” the minister said, guaranteeing that no one will ever plant illegal drugs or weapons on anyone.

Garibashvili also denied detaining people on political grounds. He said it does not matter which political orientation a suspect has – crime should be dealt in an adequate way.

“I cannot see anything strange. A lot of crime has been conducted during the previous years,” he said, stressing that one of the first detainees of the MIA was a chairperson of the Georgian Dream’s Kareli regional organization.

Garibashvili said in the period of the peaceful transition of power, the new government has tried to be very careful not to strain the situation.

Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani said Gunava lied when he said that drugs and weapon was planted, but she said Gunava can still start an argument over this case.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary minority addressed the Human Rights Committee to study Gunava’s case as a “political prisoner.”

UNM member, Tina Bokuchava, said at the committee session that Gunava was the subject of political persecution.

The committee chairperson Eka Beselia expressed her readiness to study the case if anyone would officially address the committee.