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Acting president pardons imprisoned ex-officials

By Messenger Staff

Tuesday, January 8

On January 6, acting president Nino Burjanadze pardoned two former officials of the Eduard Shevardnadze government imprisoned after the Rose Revolution.

Sulkhan Molashvili, a former chief of the state audit agency, and Davit Mirtskhulava, a former energy minister, both claimed to be political prisoners.

On December 28, 2007, Elene Tevdoradze, chair of the parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Civil Integration, announced the government would pardon some prisoners by the New Year.

Molashvili was arrested in April 2004 on charges of misuse of power and misappropriation of state funds. He was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment, later commuted to eight years.

He was a close ally of former president Eduard Shevardnadze and an outspoken critic of Mikheil Saakashvili before the 2003 Rose Revolution that swept him to power.

When Saakashvili was justice minister, the audit agency conducted an audit of the ministry, unearthing what Molashvili described as a “criminal waste of money on foreign trips.” In a 2005 interview from prison he claimed that this, along with another controversial audit of Nino Burjanadze’s father, helped put him behind bars.

Mirtskhulava was found guilty of misappropriation of state funds while serving as energy minister from 2000–2003 and was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment, reduced to seven years and six months in 2006. He has also claimed to be a political prisoner.

After their release on Sunday night, both prisoners met with Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II, who presented them with icons and candles. According to the Rustavi 2 television station, the Patriarch helped mediate their pardon.