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Georgia’s Ex-Defence Minister Sent to Prison for 9 years

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, April 25
(TBILISI)--The Tbilisi City Court has sent Georgia’s former Minister of Defence of the United National Movement leadership, Bacho Akhalaia, to prison for nine years for a high-profile torture case involving Colonel Sergo Tetradze .

The Prosecutor’s Office, which charged Akhalaia for the case in 2014, says the crime took place in 2011.

The court also sentenced deputy Minister of Defence Nikoloz Dzimtseishvili for four years in prison for the same case.

Akhalaia says he is innocent and claims that the current Georgian Dream leadership and “biased judges” will have to answer for the “political prosecution.”

Late Tetradze’s wife was not happy with the verdict, stating that Akhalaia deserved tougher punishment.

A statement released by the Georgian authorities said Akhalaia was involved in torturing innocent citizens and the torture ultimately led to the death of Tetradze, who was detained for espionage charges.

The statement said Akhalaia and another individual (the deputy head of the Military Police Department and the Director of No.8 Correction Facility Alexandre Mukhadze) decided to obtain confessions by torturing innocent citizens for gaining a reputation of a successful manager. Akhalaia and Mukhadze wanted to spread their testimonies through mass media, as if they identified the so-called "espionage” group.

The investigation revealed in September 2011 in the Military Police Department building, Akhalaia, Mukhadze, Megis Kardava and several officers of the Military Police severely assaulted and humiliated officers of the Ministry of Defence - Lieutenant-Colonel Davit Londaridze, Reserve Colonel Sergo Tetradze and citizens Sergey Chapligin and Giorgi Gorelashvili. Their assault lasted four to five hours and intended on obtaining confessions.

The Prosecutor’s Office claimed at the time of the torture, Akhalaia took a gun and set it against Lieutenant-Colonel Londaridze’s face and threatened to kill him if he did not confess to committing the crime.

After this Kardava threatened Lieutenant-Colonel Londaridze with sexual violence. The victim was extremely weak after being severely beaten and was forced to accept the demands of his attackers, and falsely confessed to committing a crime of espionage against Georgia.

In order to get the next confession, Akhalaia consented to Kardava and officers of the Military Police to physically and verbally abuse Giorgi Gorelashvili for a day.

The Prosecutor’s Office alleged Gorelashvili was beaten continuously with a plastic pipe. His attackers threatened to cut off his fingers with a large wire cutting scissor and put his fingers between the blades of the scissors to intimidate him. Afterwards they tied something to his neck and forced him to crawl along the corridor of the building. When Gorelashvili refused to confess to a crime he did not commit, his attackers transferred him to a temporary isolation cell and accused him of espionage.

The Prosecution said the men also verbally abused Sergo Tetradze and placed a polyethylene bag over his head and prevented him from breathing in order to obtain a false confession. Despite the severe attack, Tetradze did not admit the crime. For this reason, Akhalaia and Kardava continued to torture and sexually assault Tetradze.

The prisoners of the N.8 Prison Aleksi Terashvili and Tamaz Sisauri were involved in the sexual assault of Tetradze in prison Tetradze became gravely ill and died shortly after, without gaining his consciousness back.