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Prosecutorís Office charges five people over secret recordings

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, March 17
The Prosecutorís Office has launched a criminal prosecution against five individuals for the infringement of private and family lives in the wake of the leak of sex videos on Youtube on March 11-14.

The Office said a man named Gela Ghurtskaia was at the office of MEDIAAHOLDING KRONIKA+ LLC in December 2015 and presented to Eliso Kiladze -the organisation's director - an illegal video recording depicting the private and family lives of public figures for the purpose of releasing it through the media.

On February 3, Ghurtskaia was arrested. As a result of searching his apartment, the investigation discovered a memory card, which contained video recordings depicting the private and family lives of other people.

The Prosecutorís Office said that after further investigation, other alleged participants of the crime have been identified.

Based on the investigation of December 2015, Nikoloz Khachapuridze, a former officer of the Constitutional Security Department under the Ministry of Interior (during the tenure of the UNM government), contacted Ghurtskaia and offered to sell one of the covert recordings to Kiladze.

For his part, Khachapuridze obtained the recordings from his friend Inga Chatoiani. The latter obtained the video recordings from Irakli Pkhaladze, a lawyer, in the summer 2015 in order to sell them.

The investigation also revealed that in 2014, Pkhaladze received the recorded footage from Zurab Jamalashvili and decided to use them for the purpose of blackmail. As a result of searching Pkhaladze's apartment on March 13 2016, law enforces seized the personal computer of the defendant, in which the mentioned and other video recordings were retained. Apparently, those videos were recorded in June 2012.

The investigation also established that Zurab Jamalashvili, who provided Irakli Pkhaladze with the footage, has a son Ė Vasil Jamalashvili, who from July 18 2012 to October 15 2012 served as the Deputy Head of the 4th Unit of the Operative-Technical Department under the Constitutional Security Department.

Gela Ghurtskaia, Nikoloz Khachapuridze, Inga Chatoiani, and Irakli Pkhaladze have been arrested while Chartolani was charged without arrest as she cooperated with the investigation.

Speaking about the investigation into the videos posted online on March 11 and March 14, the Office spokesperson said that the Georgian side has requested authorities in the United States for assistance to obtain information from YouTube that will help to identify the location from where the recordings were uploaded.

The spokesperson did not confirm whether the people had the videos released on March 11-14 or not.

On March 11, a sex video was released on Youtube allegedly depicting one of opposition leaders. More than 100 people managed to watch it until law enforcers managed to block it.

On March 14 another such video was released that was immediately blocked.

The situation has caused a stir in Georgia and mass condemnation.

The Prime Minister said it was an ďattack on the GovernmentĒ and promised severe punishment for those involved in the case.

The opposition accuses the Government of release of the videos, while the majority blames the former ruling party, the United National Movement (UNM).

Hundreds of videos depicting private lives were taped under the UNM government, and were used for blackmailing of people.

The current Government publicly burnt the greatest part of videos in 2013, after they defeated the UNM in 2012. However, parts of videos with elements of crime were saved as they were apparently needed in a number of investigation processes.

Analysts say that the copies of the videos are likely to be still in hands of those who taped them and also did not exclude the possibility of a leak from police institutions.