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Illegal pieces of video footage may not have been destroyed

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, June 7
Pieces of video footage, showing the private life of individuals may not have been destroyed. Statements made by high-ranking Georgian officials stress that the videos which show members of the former government blackmailing people are important. This opinion is not supported by everyone. Some analysts think that destroying the archive would be an “unreasonable” step, while the opposition demands the immediate destruction of the materials.

In January, 2013 the Prosecutor’s Office said it was investigating cases of illegal surveillance of the Military Police by the former leadership. The former leadership, it was alleged, were also gathering secretly recorded videos of “well-known” men having gay sex.

Interior Minister, Irakli Gharibashvili, in an attempt to prove such videos were gathered by the previous leadership, emphasized that a huge cache of audio and video recordings obtained through illegal surveillance of political figures, which was gathered by the previous leadership, were still stored in the Interior Ministry (MIA).

Under Georgian legislation, those materials that do not reveal a connection to a crime and at the same time compromise an individual should be destroyed.

After dealing with the issue of how the information was leaked and making some of the videos available to public representatives, the Interior Ministry stated that the archive would be destroyed.

“Analysts stated that destroying the materials now would not be the right step. The Interior Ministry wants to hold additional consultations with analysts and make a final decision over the issue only after these consultations , and this process will take several days,” the Interior Minister, Irakli Gharibashvili stated on May 6th.

The Minister of the Penitentiary, Sozar Subari, stated that the pieces of video footage are significant because they confirm that criminals have been making such videos for years.

“If we don't want this problem to arise again, those who filmed the illegal videos should be arrested, but without the evidence and the materials, their detention would be difficult,” Subari stated, adding that the Government of Georgia will solve the problem publicly.

The members of the former government state that the video footage should definitely be destroyed.

According to MP, Pavle Kublashvili, the current Government of Georgia can not ensure the security of the materials.

“High ranking officials of the current government have already used the materials illegally.......... the government should act pursuant to the law and destroy the footage,” Kublashvili said.

The Head of Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, stated that destroying the materials is unacceptable.

“The pieces of video footage are evidence against former government members. If one wants to prove that those individuals committed a crime, obviously the evidence is very important,” Kakhishvili said. He also said that there are special depots in the USA for such materials and this might be a good idea for Georgia too.

The Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) states that the frequent change of positions from the MIA side is surprising and the pieces of video footage should be destroyed.

“Human Rights is the most important issue and those pieces of video footage create a threat to fundamental human rights. The statements about the footage being required in the future can not be argued now. Only those videos which are linked to concrete cases that are currently under investigation, should be kept, the others should be destroyed.” Eka Popkhadze, from GYLA stated.