07TBILISI1247, EVIDENCE TAMPERING SCANDAL HITS GEORGIAN MINISTRY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI1247 2007-05-29 07:36 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #1247/01 1490736
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 290736Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6468

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 001247 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR INL/AAE (CAMPBELL AND BARCLAY) AND EUR/ACE 
(ALTMAN-WINANS) 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/23/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV SNAR GG
SUBJECT: EVIDENCE TAMPERING SCANDAL HITS GEORGIAN MINISTRY 
OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS 
 
REF: 06 TBILISI 1301 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
 1. (C) Summary: A top Ministry of Internal Affairs official 
(MOIA) was arrested May 2 on charges of evidence tampering, 
along with the deputy of the MOIA Forensics Lab and one other 
police officer. Deputy General Prosecutor and National 
Movement activist Nika Gvaramia downplayed the extent of 
evidence tampering at the MOIA Forensic Lab, which reports 
directly to Minister of the Interior Ivane Merabishvili. 
Further charges of planting evidence brought by Public 
Defender Sozar Subari against the MOIA head of Special 
Operations Irakli Kodua on May 23rd, however, may indicate a 
bigger problem. End Summary. 
 
----------------- 
Planting Evidence 
----------------- 
 
2. (C)  MOIA Deputy Chief of General Inspection (Note: 
Georgian Equivalent of Internal Affairs. End Note) General 
Davit Kakua was arrested on May 2 on charges of fabricating 
evidence in the high-profile 2002 murder of AES Telasi 
Finance Director Nika Lominadze. Also arrested were the 
deputy of the MOIA Forensic Lab Zaza Altunashvili and police 
official Mikheil Ivanikashvili. According to a former MOIA 
official familiar with the case, Kakua allegedly planted a 
bullet casing on the scene and then tried to implicate, 
through falsified ballistic evidence involving Altunashvili, 
police officer  Davit Mchedlidze. He was held for six months 
and released in 2003. In May 2006, former AES Telasi 
Commercial Manager Giorgi Gvichiani was sentenced to life 
imprisonment for the murder of Lominadze. 
 
------------------------------------- 
Internal Affairs or Internal Problem? 
------------------------------------- 
 
3. (U) The arrest of MOIA Deputy Chief of General Inspection 
Kakua is the second scandal to hit the MOIA General 
Inspectorate. In March 2006, Chief of General Inspection 
Vasil Sanodze was forced to step down--along with three other 
MOIA top officials--in connection with the February 2006 
murder of Sandro Girgvliani. Sanodze was never charged, and 
four low-ranking MOIA officers were later convicted of the 
manslaughter. 
 
4. (C) For his part, Kakua is reputed to have a violent past. 
Giorgi Chkheidze, former Deputy Procurator and now head of 
the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association, told poloff that 
Kakua is implicated in torture, excessive use of force, and 
other human rights violations. (Comment: According to former 
MOIA officials, the MOIA General Inspectorate has been used 
to force out politically undesirable employees with threats 
of criminal charges if the employee does not resign. Former 
Police Academy Rector Levon Izoriya, for example, alleged 
that Sanodze told him in January 2006 that he should resign 
or would face an inspection that would end with criminal 
charges. He resigned and now is the Dean of Law of the 
Georgian University of Social Sciences, where President 
Saakashvili's mother is rector. No charges were ever filed. 
End Comment). 
 
--------------- 
How widespread? 
--------------- 
 
5. (C) Deputy Prosecutor General Nika Gvaramia told INL 
officer on May 16 that the situation "has changed" at the 
MOIA laboratory from the time when Kakua is alleged to have 
planted evidence. He added that the tainted evidence did not 
play a role in the 2006 conviction of Gvichiani. (Comment: 
INL Forensic Adviser Donnell Christian commented that barring 
a full-blown investigation, it is too early to dub the 
incident "only sins of the past." According to him, "it would 
not be a large leap from tampering evidence or fabricating 
evidence to expecting the people under his command to do the 
same." End Comment). 
 
6. (C) On May 23rd, however, Ombudsman Sozar Subari, 
according to press reports, called for the suspension of MOIA 
Special Operations Department head Irakli Kodua for alleged 
involvement in torture, fabrication of evidence, and the 
arrest of innocent men. According to Subari, a probe by the 
Public Defender's office revealed that evidence against three 
men in a February 2007 case had been "fabricated by law 
enforcement agencies." (Comment: In May 2006, an INL 
contact--a former state security operative-told us that Kodua 
was involved in the extortion of money from business men as 
 
well as in illegal privatizations. He could, however, provide 
no concrete evidence. End Comment). 
 
7.(C) Comment: The Ministry of Internal Affairs under 
Minister Merabishvili has done much to boost salaries, 
increase training, and improve equipment and facilities. 
Crime is down, and police--thanks to the visionary dismissal 
of all corrupt traffic police and their replacement by the 
new Patrol Police--enjoy popular support. That said, per 
reftel the MOIA been hesitant to tackle further structural 
reform, such as the appointment of a Police Commissioner, 
creation of a unified Police Department, reform of the 
Criminal Police, or creation of Civilian Review Boards. We 
hope these latest incidents reignite reformist tendencies in 
the
MOIA; bringing Kakua to justice is a good first step. 
 
8. (C) Comment Continued: INL forensic projects are largely 
conducted with the Ministry of Justice's National Forensic 
Lab to achieve the highest level of independence from 
prosecution and investigation. We work where possible with 
the MOIA lab, but since the May 2 scandal we vet any 
candidate for training with the Prosecutor General. End 
Comment. 
TEFFT

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