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Georgia’s ex-officials charged for media linked violations

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, February 17
Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office has charged two former high-ranking officials for the illegal closure of the Iberia TV channel and the seizure of its broadcasting license in 2004.

The Prosecutor’s Office has stated that the individuals who allegedly committed the illegality were Georgia’s ex-Chief Prosecutor Zurab Adeishvili and his first deputy Giorgi Latsabidze.

As the Office reported, shortly after coming to power, the United National Movement (UNM) Government aimed to control Iberia TV, which was then owned by the Omega Group.

The Group also possessed a publishing entity and carried out entrepreneurship activities during that time.

To reach the goal, the two former officials deployed a special unit in the television building that imposed a ban on a number of media practices and forced staff to leave their jobs.

Consequently, the outlet was not able to continue broadcasting.

Following the action, the duo addressed the Omega Group leadership and told them they would quit their posts if the company refused to help them retain the media outlet’s broadcasting license.

In the end the Omega Group was forced to deal with the ex-officials, and the broadcasting license appeared in the UNM Government’s hands.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office also announced that the former head of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, Dimitri Kitoshvili, was also involved in the process and he ensured procedural issues for the “illegal agreement.”

Latsabidze said he did not recognize the charge.

Adeishvili’s lawyer has stated that the Prosecutor’s action against Adeshvili was a “ staged show” without any real legal grounds, as in January 2004 Adeishvili did not take any high post in the Prosecutor’s Office.

Adeishvili - who was charged in absentia for abuse of power with the use of violence, inhumane treatment, provoking crimes and fabricating evidence - was said to be in Ukraine, participating in consultations about the fight against corruption.