Georgian Defense Ministry sues founder of opposition Formula TV channel
Two days before the local elections, the Georgian Defense Ministry has filed a lawsuit against the founder and director of the opposition Formula TV channel David Kezerashvili, a former defense minister of 2006-2008.
The ministry is demanding that Kezerashvili and Alexander Ninua, the former head of the ministry’s public procurement department, pay damages as per the recent ruling of the Supreme Court.
Kezerashvili and Ninua were acquitted twice in this case in two previous instances. However, a few weeks ago the Supreme Court reviewed the case and changed the verdict to guilty.
Kezerashvili is accused of embezzling more than 5 million euros, which the ministry is going to collect from him with the help of the court.
“This is not just a corruption case, because the money was simply transferred to an offshore company, without the purchase and delivery of any goods. This action clearly reflects the unfair attitude to the state budget on the part of the previous government”, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
According to David Kezerashvili’s lawyer Giorgi Gelkhauri, the decision to consider the old case before the elections serves to put pressure on the media.
The opposition and the non-governmental sector also regard this case as pressure on the media.
One of the leaders of the European Georgia party, Gigi Tsereteli, considers the new lawsuit against Kezerashvili to be politically motivated.
According to him, on the eve of the elections, the government is doing everything to initiate additional cases against representatives of the previous government, to find incriminating evidence, and use it as their main tool:
“I do not know specifically about this case but I know that some cases against David Kezerashvili were dropped, in some cases he was acquitted, and, even worse, European courts, including those in London and France, did not satisfy the request for his extradition because the Georgian court was politically motivated and could be used for political purposes”, Gigi Tsereteli said.
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When this case was heard in court, Shalva Tadumadze was the Prosecutor General of Georgia, and today he is a judge of the Supreme Court. He considered the case of David Kezerashvili together with two other judges – Levan Tevzadze and Merab Gabinashvili.
The resumption of the case coincided with the threat made by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, who publicly, from the rostrum of the parliament, expressed his dissatisfaction with Kezerashvili’s acquittals and promised that the case would be “dealt with properly”.