Dimitri Shashkin, the minister for probation and penitentiary system, confirmed on March 12, that jail sentence for four former Interior Ministry officials, convicted for Sandro Girgvliani murder case, had been halved as a result of pardon in November, 2008.
The murder case of 28-year-old Girgvliani has turned into the key political issue in 2006 and it reemerges time after time in the political discourse, because of persisting allegations that the investigation covered up possible links of other Interior Ministry officials, as well as of wife of Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, to this murder case.
Gia Alania, Avtandil Aptsiauri, Aleksandre Gachava and Mikheil Bibiluri were arrested on March 6. The Tbilisi City Court sentenced Alania and three other former officers to eight and seven-year prison terms, respectively, in July, 2006, for inflicting injuries that resulted in Girgvliani’s death. The Court of Appeals upheld the verdict in December, 2006. The Supreme Court, however, cut their prison terms by six months after dropping charges involving damage to the belongings of the victim.
The news about the halving of prison term was broke out by Pikria Chikhradze of the New Rights opposition party earlier on March 12; she also suggested that the convicts could have even been released already.
Dimitri Shashkin, the minister for probation and penitentiary system, although confirmed halving of the prison term for the four convicts, he said that they still remained in jail.
Shashkin said that pardon was made not specifically for those four convicts. He said that 45 convicts, who served in the law enforcement agencies, became eligible for the presidential pardon of November, 2008 and those four were among them.