Prosecutor looks into possible violations by Vano Merabishvili
By Ana Robakidze
Monday, November 26
Vano Merabishvili may be questioned by the prosecutor’s office. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has provided materials to the prosecutor’s office on possible violations of the law by the former Internal Minister between 2006 and 2008.
Merabishvili, as the Minister of Internal Affairs issued an order on March 13th, 2006, temporarily dismissing from work Davit Akhalaia, Director of the Constitutional Security Department and Vasil Sanodze, the Head of the general Inspection, as there was suspicion that by remaining on the positions, they would provide an obstacle in the criminal investigation into the Sandro Girgvliani case.
There is a grounded suspicion that the order issued by Merabishvili was fake– made only to satisfy the publics’ demand. Both Akhalaia and Sanodze, headed the departments for almost 2 years without any restrictions, though officially they were dismissed from work.
Nino Giorgobiani, Head of the Public Relations Service of the MIA, informed on the briefing that the internal investigation by the general inspection of the Ministry revealed that Akhalaia and Sanodze had access to classified information and documentation in the ministry. Reportedly, Merabishvili allowed the informal rule of the two departments of the ministry for about two years, as he issued an order to return the authority to Data Akalaia and Sanodze only in August, 2008. The former PM and Internal Minister may be accused for abusing their authority, according the first and second parts of Article 332 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which states:
1. Abuse of official authority by an officer or a person equal thereto in contempt of public service requirements in order to gain any profit or privilege for oneself or others that has come as a substantial prejudice to the right of a natural or legal person, legal public or state interest, - shall be punishable by fine or by jail time up to four months in length or by imprisonment for up to three years in length, by deprivation of the right to occupy a position or pursue a particular activity for the term not in excess of three years.
2. Abuse of official authority by a state-political official, - shall be punishable by fine or by imprisonment for up to five years in length, by deprivation of the right to occupy a position or pursue a particular activity for the term not in excess of three years.“
The date Merabishvili will be called to the prosecutor’s office has not yet been revealed. “I’m not in Tbilisi now. I’ve not been introduced to the case yet and the only thing I can say is that Vano Merabishvili will be questioned logically, though of course everything will be clear after the full investigation is conducted,” the prosecutor in chief, Archil Kbilashvili told to InterPress News.
The Parliamentary opposition finds the MIA and Prosecutor’s statements to be ridiculous. Giorgi Vashadze from the UNM says that accusing Merabishvili in acting unlawful is not serious and it is just a “political game.”
Starting an investigation in the possible violation of the law by Merabishvili may once again attract international attention to the new government. However, as the chair of the International Center on Conflict and Negotiation (ICCN), Giorgi Khutsishvili told radio Liberty, the government should not investigate cases on a selective basis, and should try and avoid individuals whose detainment could cause a negative reaction from the international community. Khutsishvili also advises law-enforcers to take the following steps carefully and only after obtaining valuable evidence in the cases, this will help to avoid critical statements from the international community.