Georgian State Security Minister Vano Merabishvili and Defense Minister Giorgi Baramidze said at a specially convened joint press conference on October 21 that the law enforcers unveiled a case of appropriation of a “large number of arms” at a recycling facility in the Dedoplistskaro district, in eastern Georgia.
Security and Defense Minister said that false documents found at the recycling facility claimed that the arms were outdated.
Officials did not specify the exact number of weapons which were found in the recycling facility; however, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Defense and Security MP Givi Targamadze said there were “hundreds of different kind of arms, including several anti-aircraft installations.”
“We have already detained several persons with alleged links to the case; the investigation is ongoing and we expect that more persons will be arrested,” Defense Minister Giorgi Baramidze said, adding that officials from the Defense Ministry might also be arrested.
In September, law enforcers arrested two Defense Ministry officials who had alleged links to the disappearance of eight Strela-2 man-portable anti-aircraft missile systems. In late August one Defense Ministry and two Interior Ministry officials were arrested, both of whom were accused of appropriation of arms and ammunition from the Osiauri military unit in central Georgia.
The recycling facility in Dedoplistskaro district is run by the military-scientific center Delta. Representatives of the center claim that the weapons were outdated and they had documents issued by the National Security Council of Georgia, which gives the go-ahead to recycle of the weapons.
“We should pun an end to the situation when these private firms together with some of the defense officials are making money at the expanse of the Georgian armed forces,” MP Givi Targamadze said.
Georgian authorities and the OSCE signed an agreement in January 2003, establishing a project to eliminate or recycle vast munitions dumps, which are a threat to the safety, ecology and security of the country. The agreement was signed between the OSCE Mission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the Georgian State Military Scientific and Technical Centre, Delta. In frames of the project, which is implemented by Delta, hundreds of dangerously unstable bombs and various types of artillery ammunition have been dismantled and recycled.