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Former defense minister loses hope after PACE resolution

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, October 7
“After the resolution of the Council of Europe, I lost all hope for a not-guilty verdict,” said former Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia said at his trial on October 6.

According to him, after that resolution an "abnormal wave of pressure will come against the court."

I would like to express my regret over the resolution. It is a great misfortune. They have never adopted such a critical resolution about Georgia. This is a diplomatic and cultural reflection of the disaster that is happening in Georgia, though it reflects 1,000 times less the reality in our country," said Akhalaia.

He said the Council of Europe had not received such a critical resolution about Georgia even during Shevardnadze. According to him, his name was mentioned in the resolution several times, and according to one of the provisions, the European Council calls on the government to replace his detention on remand with some other non-custodial precautionary measure.

‘’I see another problem. Before and after the adoption of this resolution there have been strict statements. The government has made a principled decision that Akhalaia should be in jail. The government decided to resolve the resolution’s appeal for replacement of Akhalaia’s pre-trial detention in a simple way, i.e. to deliver a guilty verdict. There will be enormous pressure on the court. I earlier hoped for a not-guilty verdict, but after that resolution my hopes have disappeared. Now everything depends on the courage of the judge and I'm skeptical of your courage," Bacho Akhalaia told Judge Besik Bugianashvili.

According to the PACE resolution adopted several days ago, almost the entire leadership of the former government has been arrested or is under prosecution or investigation: former Prime Minister and UNM Secretary General Vano Merabishvili, former Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia, and former Tbilisi Mayor and UNM campaign manager Gigi Ugulava, are all in prison. The judicial authorities have charged former President Mikheil Saakashvili, and ordered his pretrial detention in absentia, as well as for former Minister of Defence David Keserashvili, and former Minister of Justice Zurab Adeishvili.

Georgian government members admitted that the United National Movement, through the support of the European People’s Party, did its best to reflect the names in the resolution. Vice Premier Kakhi Kaladze said that the Georgian delegation should have worked better to deliver a genuine situation to the international community. He appealed to foreign officials, who are skeptical over the cases, to come to Georgia and observe the situation.

Majority MP Eka Beselia said the protection of human rights is the government’s top priority and it is not allowed to put Saakashvili or Akhalaia above the law.

Analyst Demur Giorkhelidze believes that the resolution was shameful for the current government, which failed to illustrate the real situation, and for PACE as well that openly stated that it does not care about what Georgians think and want. The analyst believes that the current government is just engaged in damaging the state image for its own interests.

Fellow analyst Elene Khoshtaria thinks that the resolution speaks about political persecution and the government can no longer close its eyes to it.