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Georgia’s Former Defense Minister, Chief of General Staff May Be Questioned about the Ministry’s Budget Deficit

Published: November 9, 2012 | 11:12 pm
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The COMMERCIAL TIMES

Bachana (Bacho) Akhalaia, who served as Georgia’s defense minister from September 2009 to July 2012, was arrested after being questioned for four hours on November 6 in connection with alleged abuse of office.

Brigadier General Giorgi Kalandadze, who stepped down five days ago as chief of general staff, and the commander of the army’s 4th Brigade, Zurab Shamatava, were also arrested.

Akhalaia’s lawyer, Davit Kereselidze, said the former minister was arrested in connection with allegations by several unnamed former Defense Ministry officials that he had insulted them. Kereselidze dismissed those allegations as “obviously absurd.”

It is not clear whether investigators will also question Akhalaia about the video footage of abuse and torture in a Tbilisi prison that impelled him to resign as Interior Minister in late September.

Similarly unclear is whether Akhalaia may be questioned about the Defense Ministry’s budget deficit. Irakli Alasania, whom new Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has named as Defense Minister, said the Ministry currently has GEL 113 million ($68.5 million) deficit. Its allocation in the 2012 budget was GEL 676.5 million, up from GEL 660 million in 2011.

Georgian court decided on November 9 to keep Akhalaia in custody, but freed two army commanders on bail after they were charged with abuse of power. Tbilisi city court ordered Akhalaia detained for two months before trial and set bail at GEL 20,000 ($12,000) for each of the two army officials, their lawyers said.

 

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