Tbilisi City Court remanded in a pretrial detention capital city’s vice-mayor and former deputy interior minister Shota Khizanishvili, who faces charges into the case involving alleged illegal surveillance through unauthorized access to computer networks.
Khizanishvili’s lawyer said that he would appeal the decision to the higher court.
Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava, who was present at the court hearing, condemned court’s decision to send his deputy to pretrial detention and said that Khizanishvili’s arrest was politically motivated.
“There was no reason whatsoever for remanding Khizanishvili in custody… All the allegations against him are fabricated and serve political reason and this political reason is quite obvious – that is directly related to Vano Merabishvili, because Khizanishvili is a close associate of him who served as chief of his administration [in the Interior Ministry] for about seven years and it is also related to me because he has been my deputy for last one month,” Ugulava told journalists after the court hearing.
Khizanishvili was arrested on November 15 together with eleven Interior Ministry officials. Most of them face charges related to exceeding official power and illegal surveillance. Ten of them were sent to pretrial detention by the Tbilisi City Court on November 17 and one of them, like Khizanishvili, was remanded in pretrial custody on November 18.
In a separate case, court rejected on November 18 a motion from the prosecutor’s office requesting pretrial detention for a former head of Interior Ministry’s internal investigations unit, Tengiz Gunava, and ordered his release on GEL 10,000 bail.
Gunava, who served as police chief in Samegrelo before becoming head of the ministry’s internal investigations unit this year, was arrested on charges related to illegal possession of arms and drugs. After he was released on bail, Gunava told journalists that charges against him were “fabricated” by planting weapon; he said that he would appeal to the prosecutor’s office to investigate his “illegal arrest.”