“The witness confirmed the former senior officials were interested in seizing Omega Group’s control stock” – the Prosecutor
The proceeding on the case of Iberia TV closure and the seizure of its broadcasting license was resumed with the examination of the prosecution’s evidence at the Tbilisi City Court today.
The court interrogated the witness of the prosecution, Besarion Keidia, who was personally involved in the process of pressure on the founder of Omega Group Zaza Okuashvili, whom the former officials urged to give up the control stock of his holding.
The witness said that he organized communication between Zaza Okuashvili and Badri Patarkatsishvili (late business tycoon), adding the latter was his close friend and a business partner.
According to Keidia, at the meeting, which was also attended by Vano Chkhartishvili and Davit Bezhuashvili, Badri Patarkatsishvili conveyed to Zaza Okuashvili the message of Mikheil Saakashvili, which said that Okuashvili had to transfer 4 millions to the state budget and stop the broadcast of Iberia TV. The witness said that Badri Patarkatsishvili, Vano Chkhartishvili and Davit Bezhuashvili promised Zaza Okuashvili to pay this sum, but instead they should get 51% of the Omega Group’s companies.
The witness said the meeting turned out fruitless, because “Zaza Okuashvili was hesitating and accusing authorities of attempting to take away his property and rob him”.
As Keidia recollected, he delivered the message of Badri Patarkatsishvili to Zaza Okuashvili that he would be arrested unless he gave up his company shares. At the next meeting with Zaza Okuashvili, which was also attended by Okuashvili’s friend Irakli Batiashvili and notary Nunu Ginturi, Keidia said the amount of company shares requested in Patarkatsishvili’s message was increased from 51% up to 65% and it should be done urgently, though the witness said at today’s hearing that he then did not know the person, to whom the deprived shares of Omega Group had to be transferred.
“Whose request it was in person, I don’t know, but I knew that the request came from the government and I also knew that Saakashvili had met with Badri. Zaza was still refusing. I told him that it was up to him to decide and I no longer saw Zaza after that day”, – Besarion Keidia told the court today.
He also said that Badri Patarkatsishvili had close relations with the former senior officials and Mikheil Saakashvili, Vano Merabishvili, Irakli Okruashvili and Vano Chkhartishvili used to visit him quite often.
The prosecutor of the case, Emzar Gagnidze was interviewed after today’s hearing by journalists, saying the witness had confirmed that former senior officials were interested in seizing the control stock of Omega Group.
“Besarion Keidia was Badri Patarkatsishvili’s confidant, while Patarkatsishvili in his turn was the businessman having close ties with that time government. It was Badri Patarkatsishvili, who organized the meeting with Zaza Okuashvili after the change of the government, I mean the Rose Revolution, where Besarion Keidia represented Badri Patarkatsishvili. At that meeting Keidia urged Zaza Okuashvili to transfer several millions to the state budget and close the Iberia TV in order to avoid “problems with the authorities and troubles around his business.
Besarion Keidia confirmed at the proceeding that it was the request of the government’s senior officials. The witness confirmed that the former senior officials were interested in seizure of the control stock of Omega Group companies and closure of Iberia TV”, - the prosecutor said.
It should be noted that the case of Iberia TV closure and the seizure of its broadcasting license was investigated by the prosecutor’s office in February, 2016. According to the investigation body, former prosecutor general Zurab Adeishvili and his first deputy Giorgi Latsabidze were prosecuted for this crime.
The next proceeding on the case will be held at 14:30, on the 21st of April.