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Akhalaia’s lawyer detained

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, February 14
Giorgi Oniani, a former Deputy Head of the Gldani-Nadzaladevi Unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia and now a defense attorney representing former defense minister Bacho Akhalaia, was detained on Sunday evening. Members of the opposition United National Movement party claim that the detention was politically motivated.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Oniani was detained for using his official authority in excess, service-related falsification of evidences concerning an especially grave offence, as well as the illegal and deliberate deprivation of liberty.

The Prosecutor’s Office stresses that in 2011, for the purpose of hindering the activities of the Georgian Dream and intimidating the people having different political views, Oniani illegally arrested Davit Shatirishili, the manager of DAO-PRINT LLC. By that time, the LLC was producing the T-shirts with the logos of the Georgian Dream.

According to the investigation, Oniani instructed the police officers subordinated to him to file a report allegedly confirming that Shatirishvili was in possession of illegal narcotic substances. On the same day, with the organization and under the direct leadership of Oniani, Shatirishvili was detained.

“No narcotic substance was found in a result of the investigation. Notwithstanding the fact that Shatirishvili should have been released immediately, the latter was transported to the administrative building of Gldani-Nadzaladevi unit upon the instruction of Oniani. As a result of the efforts of Oniani, Davit Shatirishvili was charged for the purchase and possession of narcotic substances, and this entails a prison sentence of up to 11 years as the penalty,” the Prosecutor’s Office states.

Oniani says that his detention was “obviously” politically motivated, because he was going to run for a majoritarian seat on the Tbilisi City Council. He said that when the authorities learned about it, his former subordinates were pressured by prosecutors to provide false testimony against him.

Gigi Ugulava, who was suspended from his mayoral post, claims that Oniani was really going to run in one of the local election districts in Tbilisi. “Through such detentions, the government intends to push aside real opponents,” Ugulava states.

Fellow representative of UNM, Tinatin Bokuchava, stresses that the new government of Georgia has failed to prove allegations against Akhalaia and decided to detain his professional lawyer.

Executive director of the Freedom Institute, Tea Tutberidze, showed interest in another issue. She appealed to the investigation to investigate the activities of the current head of the Interior Ministry Aleksandre Tchikaidze. She states that Tchikaidze was Oniani’s subordinate during that period and he would have to fulfill Oniani’s orders.

Member of the coalition Georgian Dream, Giorgi Volski, states that there are grave allegations against Oniani and nothing was surprising in his detention.

“I believe in impartiality and the legal actions of the Prosecutor’s Office,” Volski said.