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Ex-officials charged for brutal dispersal of rally

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, September 21
Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office has charged four ex-officials under the previous authorities for the brutal dispersal of a peaceful opposition rally in central Tbilisi on May 26, 2011.

The official accusation came after today’s release of a video recently obtained by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office which was filmed on the day of the rally by a cameraman of the Constitutional Security Department (CSD) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) under the United National Movement (UNM) government.

The people who were charged are:

Ex-head of CSD Data (David) Akhalaia, who is currently on the run and wanted by Georgia’s law enforcers;

Ex-Deputy Head of CSD Vasil Leluashvili;

Ex-Head of Tbilisi Main Department of CSD Revaz Shiukashvili, and

Ex- Head of Tbilisi Second Department of CSD Levan Kardava;

If the persons are found guilty for exceeding their official powers, they will face five to eight years behind bars.

“The dispersal was planned and headed by ex-Interior Minister of Georgia Vano Merabishvili and aimed at terrorizing people with different political views,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.

The released video shows how ex-Head of CSD David Akhalaia tasks his staff to “arrest all the rally participants” and promises money awards for those CSD employees who would meet the demand.

He says the more people arrested, higher the bonus will be.

The video, the authenticity of which has already been established by experts according to the Chief Prosecutor’s Office, depicts how the ex-officials, with the employees of the CSD, blocked the way for peaceful protesters on Rustaveli Avenue and Freedom Square, who protested against the actions of the UNM. Rubber bullets and truncheons were used to beat and hurt several dozens of people.

The Prosecutor’s Office said that during the rally two men died, while more than 250 were injured, and more than 800 were illegally detained.

The Prosecutor’s Office added that after the dispersal of the rally, CSD staff received about $400,000 in total as a bonus. Of this money, Levan Kardava received about $6,000, Vasil Leluashvili $4000, David Akhalaia $2,900, and Revaz Shiukashvili $1,800

Merabsihvili has already been sentenced to four years and six months over the case for exceeding his official powers, and is serving the sentence in prison.

The leader of the opposition Democratic Movement-United Georgia, Nino Burjanadze, who led the May 26 rally, asked why the investigation of the dispersal took so long and why the video was released only now.

The UNM accused the Government of “stirring hatred” amongst public after the release of the video.