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Zviad Kharebava – Victim of Political Revenge

15.02.2011

Salome Achba

In 2009, Zviad Kharebava was detained for swindle and unreasonable expenditure of funds; 17-year-imprisonment was imposed on him. The convicted person said he was victim of political revenge. Kharebava said during his statement at the court that head and investigator of the investigative department requested him to discredit former prime-minister of Georgia Zurab Nogaideli. In case of disobedience, he was threatened with long-term imprisonment.

In 2005, Zurab Kharebava was advisor to Prime-Minister Zurab Nogaideli. Before that he was head of the department at the Economic Ministry. Kharebava is a mathematician. He received high education and doctor’s degree in the USA. In 2003, after the Rose Revolution, he returned to Georgia and started working here. In 2005, after resignation from the position of Nogaideli’s advisor, he started activities in private business and became director general of a company.

Kharebava and his family members allege that his imprisonment had political motive.

“Two weeks after the detention, deputy head of the investigative department Zaza Kachibaia and investigator Manuchar Kajaia visited me in Gldani jail. They talked with me in the name of Georgian state and requested me to provide them with the information about corruption deals of Zurab Nogaideli. If I satisfied their request, they promised me freedom. Otherwise, I would have to spend much time in prison,” said the convicted in his testimony.

Zviad Kharebava said he did not have and could not have any discrediting information about Nogaidzeli. “Nogaideli has been in the politics since 1991 but I met him only at the end of 2005. If Zurab Nogaideli really had made any corruption deals, he could have been involved in it from the very beginning and would not have told me about it. Who needs extra witnesses in similar cases?! And second, if the law enforcement officers did not have information about illegal activities of Nogaideli, how could I have similar information? He was public figure and supposedly, his every step was controlled by law enforcement institutions.”

Kharebava said Kajaia offered him to confirm concrete facts by signature. “They asked me to blame Nogaideli in having bank accounts abroad where the illegal money was transferred. They also suggested me to confirm that Zurab Nogaideli and a Kuwaiti businessman made a deal after what Nogaideli received bribe from the foreign businessman.”

The prisoner thinks that he was victim of political revenge – they imposed 17-year-imprisonment on him only because he did not accept their suggestions. “Of course, I refused to give wrong information to them and they threatened me with long-term imprisonment. I underscore that my detention was political revenge. They put me in prison for 17 years because I refused them to denounce Nogaideli,” said Kharebava at the trial.

As for Kharebava’s accusation – unreasonable expenditure of particularly large amount of money - his family members, attorney and the prisoner himself do not deny that he had made some violations. However, he did not deserve 17-year-imprisonment for it.

“Initial accusation – swindle – is completely unclear for me. He did not cheat anybody. As for second accusation – unreasonable expenditure of funds, my brother made some mistakes when drawing up documents. However, he did not deserve 17-year-imprisonment for it. The real reason for his detention and strict punishment is Zurab Nogaideli who joined opposition and started struggle against government. The government requested Kharebava to discredit Nogaideli. I am sure it is real reason for my brother’s detention,” said brother of the prisoner Grigol Kharebava.

“There is no evidence against the prisoner in the case materials. Consequently, the charge is completely ungrounded. I mean the first part of the accusation – swindle. As for the second part – unreasonable expenditure of funds, the court did not envisage many important circumstances,” said the attorney Dimitry Khachidze.

The defense side appealed the Appeal Court. The trial is scheduled on February 18. The lawyer of the Human Rights Center Eka Kobesashvili took up the case. She said the assumption about Zviad Kharebava’s politically motivated imprisonment has enough grounds.

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