Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs released footage on 22 May depicting a fight between Auditor General Lasha Tordia and former Chief Prosecutor Otar Partskhaladze.
The footage, from 12 May, appears to show Tordia, who is arguing with Partskhaladze and several other men, hitting Partskhaladze, after which a brawl ensues.
Tordia claims that it was Partskhaladze who initiated the fight. According to him, it was related to a specific case that the Auditor’s Office is investigating in which Partskhaladze is implicated. The case involves the transfer of plots of land in 2016.
‘When I met him, he asked me aggressively why I was collecting compromising material against him’, Tordia told journalists on 15 May. ‘My goal is to reveal Partskhaladze’s involvement in corruption’, he continued.
According to Partskhaladze, Tordia, who he claims was drunk, assaulted him and his companions. ‘My dignity has been undermined, my constitutional rights have been violated, including the presumption of innocence’ he said in a letter published on 14 May.
Following the release of the footage, Tordia claimed there is other footage, which shows clearly that Partskhaladze initiated the fight, suggesting that the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor’s Office are working together to discredit the investigation. According to Tordia, the Interior Ministry was ‘demonstrating the footage which raises questions about who the first attacker was’.
Tordia has called on Georgia’s parliament to create a special parliamentary commission to investigate the case.
Police have launched an investigation into the fight for ‘battery’, leading to protests from some civil society organisations. Transparency International Georgia (TI) argued that ‘assaulting a head of a state entity, which is probably related to its duties, cannot be considered as any other case of battery and violence’.
‘It is important that the investigation also covers the crime committed against governing institutions, more specifically violence against governmental officers related to their official capacity’, TI’s statement read.
TI, which has long followed alleged corruption schemes in Georgia, said Partskhaladze’s ‘informal influence on law enforcement agencies raises questions’.
Bidzina Ivanishvili, former Prime Minister and founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party, who is often accused of being the ‘ruler behind the curtains’, announced earlier in 2016 that his son, Bera Ivanishvili, is godfather to Partskhaladze’s grandchild.
Partskhaladze served as Chief Prosecutor in 2013 for only 47 days. He resigned after a scandal broke out when it was discovered that Parstskhaladze was previously convicted of ‘resisting the police’ in Germany.