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A former official on trial for ‘compromising’ the Khorava Street murder investigation has threatened to release incriminating recordings of senior officials which he claimed could bring down the government, Rustavi 2 has reported.
In a series recordings aired by Rustavi 2 on Sunday, a man identified as Mirza Subeliani, a former high-level official at the Prosecutor’s Office, alleged that he had secretly agreed with the authorities to serve a year in prison over the controversial investigation in order to ‘save the country’.
He allegedly claimed it was his decision to go to prison and that the authorities refrained from pursuing him earlier as he had ‘50 armed men’.
He allegedly implied he was now unhappy with the deal and threatened to release ‘kompromat’ — details of abuses within law enforcement agencies which he allegedly took part in, including the torture of suspects during several high profile cases.
Subeliani allegedly claimed to have ‘terabytes’ of incriminating recordings of senior figures giving illegal orders.
‘What do you think? When they were sitting in meetings giving out shitty orders I was dumb enough not to protect myself from them?’
In the recordings, Subeliani allegedly threatens another man, identified by Rustavi 2 as Viktor Japaridze, an MP from the ruling Georgian Dream party.
‘If I wish it so, if I want people to come out [onto the streets], nothing is required, only two tapes and the entire [central Rustaveli Avenue] will be full and there will be no more of you Georgian Dream, trust me.’
He allegedly said that if he received political asylum abroad, he would ‘fuck over the whole country’.
Subeliani is currently being charged with failing to report a crime over the Khorava street murders investigation.
A parliamentary commission into the investigation of the murders led by the opposition European Georgia Party found that it was compromised by Subeliani, and suggested he be investigated for possible abuse of power, pressuring witnesses, and hindering the investigation.
In September, the commission called on the authorities to open an investigation into Subeliani for giving false statements to Parliament.
So far, no additional charges have been pressed against him.
[Read on OC Media: Khorava Street murder commission accuses officials of cover-up]
The six audio recordings aired by Rustavi 2 were allegedly between Subeliani and Japaridze, while former senior Georgian Refugee Ministry official Davit Khutsishvili, who previously worked in law enforcement, also allegedly participated in the conversations.
Subeliani allegedly asks Japaridze to remind Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia of the ‘conditions agreed’ with him.
Rustavi 2 claimed the tapes were recorded in Tbilisi’s Gldani Prison No 8, where Subeliani is being held, but did not say who made them or how they were obtained.
Rustavi 2 suggested the recordings were made recently because Subeliani claims to have more compromising materials against the government than Zaza Okuashvili.
Okuashvili, the head of the Omega Group company, has released several potentially incriminating recordings of former officials over the past month.
[Read more on the Omega Tapes scandal on OC Media: Former Georgian minister ‘beaten and threatened with rape’ by chief prosecutor]
Who Subeliani ‘has evidence against’
Subeliani allegedly claimed he had ‘cleaned up after’ several high-level officials, including two former chief prosecutors (Archil Kbilashvili and Irakli Shotadze), a former chief prosecutor of Tbilisi, and former Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili.
He allegedly claimed to have compromising recordings of the Chair of Parliament’s Human Rights Committee Eka Beselia regarding the pardoning of prisoners, and a compromising SMS history with the former Tbilisi Chief Prosecutor.
Subeliani allegedly hinted that he had recordings incriminating other, unnamed senior officials.
He allegedly boasted of his supposed role in securing several high profile prosecutions of officials from the former ruling party, the United National Movement.
Subeliani allegedly said this was done through pressuring witnesses and torture under orders from and with the full knowledge of his superiors.
‘We kidnapped and fucked people up’, Subeliani allegedly said in the recording.
Subeliani allegedly claimed to have ‘helped out’ former Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili with ‘Vano’s case’.
Vano Merabishvili, who served as interior minister and prime minister in the UNM’s government, was arrested in May 2013 charged with a number of criminal offences.
In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the Georgian authorities in their handling of the case, calling his prolonged pre-trial detention a form of ‘pressure’ and confirming that he was clandestinely removed from his cell for questioning late at night.
[Read opinion from Merabishvili’s defence: The ECHR’s verdict is in: Merabishvili’s detention was politically motivated]
In the case against Bacho Akhalaia, a former minister seen as a close ally of former president Mikheil Saakashvili, Subeliani allegedly claimed to have tortured witnesses to secure his conviction.
He allegedly boasted of making ‘thieves’, Georgian crime bosses known as thieves-in-law, testify against Akhalaia.
Akhalaia was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison in 2014 for torturing prisoners at Rustavi Prison No 1 following the 2006 prison riots.
Subeliani also allegedly lambasted the parliamentary majority head Archil Talakvadze for not helping him, after he had ‘helped’ Talakvadze’s brother.
On Monday, a spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office claimed at the press briefing that an investigation had been launched after a prison employee claimed he had been blackmailed into secretly taping the conversations threatened with having information about his private life made public.
They said they had opened an investigation into the ‘illegal taping’ and ‘blackmailing’ two days before the tapes were aired.
They also claimed to be investigating ‘possible violations revealed in the secret recordings’.
According to the authorities, they have retrieved other recordings of the conversation.
Viktor Japaridze, the other person in the recordings, did not question their authenticity.
He instead said that Subeliani was ‘incoherent’ due to stress over his imprisonment and said he did not take his words seriously.