The son of Zurab Neparidze, a former member of the Tbilisi City Council (sakrebulo), has claimed the prosecution blackmailed his family with compromising footage, allegedly featuring his father. Neparidze was arrested on corruption charges in August 2017, and his trial is ongoing.
The State Security Service (SSG) launched an investigation into Neparidze, a councillor for Tbilisi’s Navtlughi District, after one of his employees accused him of demanding a part of her salary.
His son, also named Zurab Neparidze, made the allegations to journalists on Thursday. ‘They said they would even show me the materials if necessary. The prosecutor, Beka Ezhishvili, was present during this conversation. They threatened to arrest me and my wife as well. They destroyed our entire family’, he said.
Neparidze’s lawyer, Edishar’s Karchava, also claimed that the compromising footage exists, but had not been presented as evidence in the case.
The prosecutor, Beka Ezhishvili, has denied the allegations. He said the General Inspection, who investigate allegations of wrongdoing in the Prosecutor’s Office, had already looked into the matter.
‘In this case, there is no material featuring private life footage. The dissemination of such information by [the defence] is aimed at avoiding responsibility’, Ezhishvili said. ‘I am ready to answer for all of my actions’, he added.
Arrests in the city council
Two other officials connected to the city council have had charges brought against them in the last year.
Councillor Temur Gorgodze was arrested on 28 February on corruption charges, and may face 7–11 years of jail. Investigators say he demanded $7,000 in exchange for releasing a prisoner through the Pardon Council.
In July 2017, the SSG arrested Otar Abesadze, the Mayor’s representative to the City Council. Investigators claimed he had promised a businessman he would accelerate the process of obtaining permission for a cafe, in exchange for $3,000. In January he was released on ₾10,000 bail ($4,000).
In 2017, Georgia ranked 46th place out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International.