Interior Minister of breakaway South Ossetia Mikhail Mindzaev dismissed claims by Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, who said on November 20 that ex-Interior Minister of the unrecognized republic Jemal Karkusov escaped from Tskhinvali prison with the help of the Georgian special services, as “a fantasy and tale” the South Ossetian Press and Information Committee reported on November 21.
Jemal Karkusov and his brother were arrested by South Ossetian law enforcers in April, 2005 for allegedly carrying illegal arms. Both of them escaped from prison in the South Ossetian capital late on November 19. Vano Merabishvili said that this jailbreak was made possible as a result of the Georgian Interior Ministry’s special operation, “which has been planned thoroughly over the past six months.”
“We requested the Georgian side to assist us in re-capturing Karkusov, shortly after the jailbreak. Initially, the Georgian side agreed to help us, but later they changed their mind. Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili decided to use this case to earn political dividends,” Mikhail Mindzaev said.
Vano Merabishvili also said on November 20 that Karkusov was a political prisoner who is now under the protection of the Georgian side and refused to hand him over to the South Ossetian side.
Jemal Karkusov was appointed the unrecognized republic’s Secretary of National Security Council in late 2003. Before that he served as the South Ossetian Interior Minister. He resigned from the position of Secretary of National Security Council in June, 2004, reportedly because of disagreements with South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity.