Former Minister of Interior Affairs and Defense Bacho Akhalaia has been sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison. The judge announced the verdict against several convicts regarding the so-called Navtlughi special operation. Four former officials: Bacho Akhalaia, Giorgi Mazmishvili, Levan Kardava and Megis Kardava were found guilty on October 22.
Akhalaia found guilty in Navtlughi case
By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, October 23
Levan Qardava and Giorgi Mazmishvili are accused of murder during the special operation, while ex-minister Bacho Akhalaia and Megis Qardava are accused of beating inmates in one of the episodes of the Navtlughi special operation. Levan Kardava and Mazmishvili were sentenced to 11 years in jail, while Megis Kardava was sentenced to imprisonment of 7 years and 6 months.
The statement released by the Tbilisi Civil Court reads that 32 court sittings were held over the issue, where 56 witnesses from the prosecution and 28 from the defense were interrogated. The court informs that written testimonies of two witnesses of the prosecution were also made public.
Prosecutor Nino Aghlemashvili states that the judge made a fair verdict. According to her, the three individuals who were brutally killed during the special operation were innocent and the former officials must answer for their crimes.
Commenting on the verdict Akhalaia stated that there are already “many patriots unfairly persecuted by the current government and it’s better for him to be among them.”
Akhalaia’s Lawyer Malkhaz Velijanashvili claims that the court verdict was due to the pressure on the judiciary by the government. He said that they are going to appeal the verdict.
“I can say that the verdict lacks proof. Bacho Akhalai’s wife Ani Nadareishvili made a statement a day before the trial that the court would have made a guilty verdict against Akhalaia, as the process is being ruled by the current government,” Velijanashvili said.
Giorgi Mazmishvili’s mother, Marina Mazmishvili states that the only misdeed of his son was that he was Bacho Akhalaia’s friend.
However, Mikheil Artmelidze, father one of the individuals who died during the special operation, stated that they would demand stricter punishment for the convicts.
On January 12, 2006 the Department of Constitutional Security, under the direction of Data Akhalaia, planned and carried out a special operation, during which the brother of Gia Gorgadze, the prisoner of Facility No. 1, Shota (Murad) Gorgadze, Roman Surmanidze and Marad Artmeladze, who allegedly for the purpose of a mass escape of prisoners were planning an armed attack on the General Regime Facility No. 1 of Rustavi of the Department of Corrections, were killed in Tbilisi, near the Navtlughi bus terminal.