Irakli Okruashvili confirms unlawful actions against TV Iberia and Omega Group
The hearing on the case of forceful seizure of Iberia TV’s broadcasting license was resumed with the discussion of the evidence presented by the prosecution at the Tbilisi City Court today. The defendants in the case are the former prosecutor general, Zurab Adeishvili and Giorgi Latsabidze, who was Adeishvili’s deputy in 2004.
Today the court interrogated Irakli Okruashvili as a witness. He was the prosecutor general in February 2004, the day, when riot police raided Omega Group’s companies, including Iberia TV.
Okruashvili told the court that he was the prosecutor general from January 2004 and assumed the office of the Interior Minister in May of the same year.
Therefore, as the witness defined, by the end of 2004, when the process of forceful seizure of Iberia’s broadcasting license began, he no longer was the prosecutor general and consequently, he was not involved in the process of license seizure.
“I had no interest towards the license of the TV Company”, - Irakli Okruashvili said and added that the process was conducted by his successor on the position of the prosecutor general, Zurab Adeishvili.
The witness said that meetings were held to discuss the give up of Iberia’s broadcasting license and it were Zurab Adeishvili and Mikheil Saakashvili, who participated in those negotiations, where they proposed to organize the “give up” of Iberia’s license instead of restructuring the arrears Omega Group had towards the state budget due to financial violations.
Irakli Okruashvili also said that Saakashvili’s grandfather and grandmother also had expressed some interest towards Iberia TV company, who, according to the testimony, talked with the witness about the issue.
According to Okruashvili, businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili used to join the negotiations periodically, who, as he says, had some business interests.
When asked what had caused the interest of that time government, specifically, the president and the defendant, Zurab Adeishvili towards Iberia TV Company, Okruashvili answered that they saw the opposition media source as a danger.
He also said that for that government Omega Group was dangerous because it was a mega business, enjoying the support of the previous authorities, mentioning the interior minister of Shevardnadze’s government, Kakha Targamadze in that context.
Okruashvili said he was the prosecutor general when Omega Group was raided by riot police due to the investigation of alleged counterfeiting of excise marks by Omega Group’s printing house. He also said he resigned soon after this and “does not remember if anyone of Omega Group was prosecuted due to the case launched during his incumbency”.
When asked by Shota Kakhidze, the lawyer of Zurab Adeishvili, if the riot police of the Interior Ministry misused their authority at Omega Group, Okruashvili answered he would have known if it had happened so.
Today the prosecution also examined the call logs withdrawn from Magticom and Geocell communication companies, from the telephones of Zurab Adeishvili, Giorgi Latsabidze, the former chairperson of the communications regulatory commission, Dimitri Kitoshvili and all other persons having connection to the case. The records prove the phone calls among the mentioned persons and they also coincide the period, when the process of license seizure took place.
The next hearing on the case of Iberia TV License will be held at the Tbilisi City Court on the 12th of April, at 13:30.