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Defense Ministry officials detained

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, October 30
The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has detained several high-ranking officials of the Georgian Defense Ministry on October 28. Currently, there are speculations over whether the minister of Defense Irakli Alasania should quit his position or not.

According to the statement of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office, five high-ranking officials of the ministry are accused of the embezzlement of GEL 4, 102, 872 in budget funds. The sentence ranges from 7-11 years.

The Prosecutor's Office stresses that on December 26, 2013, the Ministry of Defense concluded the state procurement contract with JSC SILKNET regarding the purchase of fiber-optic cables, network equipment, with the terms of purchase-installment and providing relevant services. According to the contract, the Ministry of Defense was supposed to pay JSC SILKNET in total GEL 6, 720, 877.42, out of which, GEL 6, 480, 877.42 has already been transferred beforehand (as an advance payment). In return, on January 16, 2015, JSC SILKNET is expected to provide the Ministry of Defense with the goods and services, the real market price of which amounts to GEL 2 ,618, 004.82 according to the examination report.

Responding to the case the Ministry of Defence of Georgia has released a statement, which reads that the State Procurement Department of the Ministry of Defence of Georgia implements procurements in full compliance with Georgian legislation.

“Compared to past years, the percentage of secret procurements ongoing in the MoD has been reduced to a minimum and amounts to 16 % of common procurements this year. It is notable that 74 % of state purchases carried out in the MoD in 2012 were secret”, the statement reads.

The ministry reports that this particular procurement is regarded as classified.

“Considering the high interest from the public, the MoD puts forward an initiative to lift the status of classified information on the above-said procurement to help the investigation process go on in a transparent way,” MoD stated, adding that they are interested in a thorough investigation of the case.

The same incident took place shortly after the Georgian Dream government took office. Several employees of the Ministry of Agriculture were detained for embezzlement of budgetary funds. Following the situation, then Minister Davit Kirvalidze resigned. Despite the fact the investigation could detect no connection of the case to the minister, Kirvalidze was not returned to his post.

Head of the Security and Defense Parliamentary Committee Irakli Sesiashvili cannot see the necessity of Alasania’s r resignation. He said that drawing parallels with the resignation of Davit Kirvalidze was not right.

He admitted that confirmation of the fact will not be pleasant for the public or for the soldiers.

“When it comes to Davit Kirvalidze, it was his own decision to resign. I hope the fact will not be confirmed and in the case it is confirmed, everything depends on the details, whether the minister had been informed or not. A minister cannot be responsible for everything. More than 1,000 people work at the ministry and the minister must not be held responsible for all mistakes,” Sesiashvili said.

The detainees state that they are innocent. The lawyer of one of the detainees Levan Samushia states that the case very much resembles the case of the Ministry of Agriculture. He admits that he was the lawyer of one of the detainees of that case as well.

“The detainees from the Ministry of Defense state that they made a very beneficial deal for the budget and are being detained for no good reason, and that the document reflecting the deal should become public,” Samushia says.