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‘Evidence Fabricated to Arrest Patarkatsishvili’
/ 20 Dec.'07 / 21:33
Civil Georgia

The authorities have fabricated evidence to justify the planned arrest of presidential candidate and business tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, his campaign office alleged on December 20.

MP Valery Gelbakhiani said a retired law enforcement officer had been arrested in November, and had subsequently been forced to give false evidence against Patarkatsishvili. The evidence, he said, specifically related to Patarkatsishvili allegedly financing the purchase of weapons for a coup.

Gelbakhiani, who is the head of the Patarkatsishvili campaign headquarters, showed journalists a video clip of retired Colonel Revaz Chakvetadze claiming he was forced to give false evidence against Patarkatsishvili.

Gelbakhiani then told the journalists that the colonel - a member of Mamulishvili (Patriot) Movement, an organization set up mainly by retired law enforcement agents last September – had been arrested on November 12 and then released after giving false evidence.

“They offered me two options,” Chakvetadze says in the video clip. “The first one was jail after having drugs planted on me and the second one was freedom on condition of agreeing to read a text in front of a camera. The text read that on November 2 Patarkatsishvili at the protest rally [outside Parliament] gave USD 2 million to [opposition activist and former state minister Giorgi] Khaindrava and several days later an additional USD 10 million for the purchase of weapons. The text then went on to say that on November 7, after the break up of the protest rally, a coup was planned involving the seizure of strategic facilities, including Parliament and the State Chancellery... I agreed to give this evidence to avoid being jailed.”

MP Gelbakhiani said that Chakvetadze was currently out of the country. The video message, he said, was designed to pre-empt the possible dissemination of Chakvetadze’s false video testimony by the authorities.

The ruling party has already responded to the allegation, saying it was totally groundless.

“This allegation reminds me of statements made by [ex-Adjarian leader] Aslan Abashidze, who was always claiming that terrorist acts were being plotted against him,” Levan Bezhashvili, a lawmaker from the ruling party, told the Georgian Public Broadcaster. “Now the same modus operandi is being employed and it comes as no surprise, because the very same people [referring to MP Gelbakhiani] were in Abashidze’s circle… It would be better to engage in issue-based debate based on election programs.”

On November 16 the General Prosecutor’s Office released the video testimony of an employee of a security firm allegedly linked to Patarkatsishvili. The man claimed that the firm was engaged in recruiting people for an illegal armed group.

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