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Court Questions Key Figures over High-Profile Murder Case
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 30 Jun.'06 / 15:59

Tbilisi City Court questioned former Interior Ministry top-level officials and a wife of Interior Minister at a hearing on June 30 over Sandro Girgvliani murder case.

Four officers from the Interior Ministry were arrested in March for suspicion of committing this crime.

But relatives of murdered Sandro Girgvliani and some human rights groups suspect that Data Akhalaia, ex-chief of the Department of Constitutional Security DCS; Vasil Sanodze, ex-chief of the general inspection of the Interior Ministry (both of them were suspended from the office), as well as Guram Donadze, former Interior Ministry spokesman and Interior Minister’s wife Tako Salakaia, or at least one of these persons, could have ordered persecution of Girgvliani after the victim insulted Guram Donadze in a café in downtown Tbilisi.

Tamar Maisuradze, also a key witness into the case, told the court, that Sandro and she were sitting at a table standing near to the one where Interior Ministry officials and the Interior Minister’s wife were sitting. She also said that Girgvliani was speaking emotionally insulting Donadze. Maisuradze also said that she is not sure whether Donadze or any other person sitting with him could have heard Girgvliani’s words.

At the court hearing on June 30 these key figures testified that they heard nothing as music was playing loudly in the café.

Gia Alania, ex-chief of the first unit of the Interior Ministry’s DCS, who was arrested in March with three other officers from the same department, is a major suspect into the case.

Alania has not been questioned by the court yet but he pled guilty shortly after the arrest. In his testimony given to investigators after his arrest, Alania claims that he met with Girgvliani while the latter was coming out of a café. Alania says that he and his colleagues who were accompanying him overheard Girgvliani verbally insult Guram Donadze that irritated Alania and triggered a dispute between him and Girgvliani. He also says that he and his three other colleagues took Girgvliani and his friend in outskirts of Tbilisi and beaten them up. Girgvliani’s body was found next morning, while his friend could survive.

Investigators have ruled out that the murder was ordered and claim that the incident was a result of a spontaneous quarrel between the suspects and the victim.

But the security guard of the café, who has also been questioned by the court, ruled out that a quarrel, or incident took place outside the café.

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