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Okruashvili remains in custody

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, December 12
Tbilisi City Court did not satisfy Irakli Okruashvili’s lawyers’ appeal and the former defense minister was kept in custody.

Okruashvili’s lawyers, Zviad Kordzadze and Mamuka Chabashvili, appealed to the judge to wave his detention as a preventive measure for Okruashvili. The case concerns violation of official duties from Okruashvili’s side during his time as the Defense Minister. He is being held responsible for negligence, as under his watch Georgia purchased a large amount of faulty combat-grade ammunition cartridges.

The judge explained that there are no new materials concerning the issue; but there are several eyewitnesses that should be questioned. The judge also emphasized that there is still the threat of influencing the eyewitnesses and banning the detention as a preventive measure for Okruashvili will not be acceptable.

Kordzadze underscored that the judge’s decision was not fair. According to him there were no reasons for Okruashvili to be left in custody.

“Unfortunately, the situation in the court is the same as it was during the previous government and unfair decisions are still being made,” Kordzadze stated.

However, the judge satisfied the demand of the defense side concerning the questioning of the former employees of the Defense Ministry, Giorgi Lolua and Giorgi Khosruashvili. According to the lawyers, the individuals worked in the ministry from 2005-2006 and had direct responsibility in the purchase of the cartridges.

During the trial some verbal confrontations took place between lawyer Aptsiauri and a prosecutor. The prosecutor appealed to Apstiauri to read the Procedure Code. During the break Aptsiauri stated that the prosecutor’s remark was unethical and that she would “tear the code on his head.” After making such statement, the judge dismissed her and fined her.

The Georgian media speculated that a confrontation took place between Okruashvili and Bacho Akhalaia (former Defense Minister) in prison (they are both in the same penitentiary institution). The incident was voiced by Okruashvili’s lawyer.

The statement was responded to by the Minister of the Penitentiary and Corrections, Sozar Subari. He underscored that Okruashvili’s lawyer “boasted about the incident when there was no need.” The minister confirmed that there was really a verbal confrontation and Okruashvili “shouted something to Akhalaia.”

“That was all. There was no need for any involvement in the process. It is possible that Akhalaia could not even hear what Okruashvili shouted,” Subari stated.

If Okruashvili is not granted the status of political prisoner and is not released, the members of Okruashvili’s Georgian Party will go on hunger strike.

According to them, Okruashvili and some other members of the Georgian Party were deliberately removed from the list based on Eka Beselias’s will.

According to them, Beselia had motivation for doing this, without providing the details regarding her decision. They underscored that the party leader and members have been pursued by both the former and new governments.

“We appeal to the Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili to express interest concerning the issue. In the case the members of our party are not granted the status of political prisoners, we will go on hunger strike on December 17,” the Georgian Party statement reads.

Beselia had emphasized that Okruashvili would not be granted the status of pursuit on political grounds as he has returned to the country and asked the court to prove his innocence.