Defense lawyer brands new charge against him as political retaliation

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The Chief Prosecutor's Office of Georgia has leveled a new charge against Giorgi Oniani, the former Deputy Head of Interior Ministry's Gldani-Nadzaladevi Department who is now a defense lawyer of the former Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia.

Oniani has been charged with the abuse of official power, fraud, falsification of evidence, political persecution and illegal detention.

According to the investigation, on 17 October 2011, Giorgi Oniani illegally detained a Georgian Dream supporter, Levan Mdinaradze, for dissenting political views. To fabricate a charge of illegal purchase and keeping of drugs, Oniani gave marijuana to the investigator and instructed him to use this narcotic substance as evidence against Mdinaradze. Moreover, as the investigation asserted, Oniani told Mdinaradze that he was being punished for distributing T shirts with Georgian Dream logo.

Later on 5 March, Giorgi Oniani called a news briefing and evaluated the new charge as the political retaliation. According to Oniani, he is persecuted for being the defense lawyer of Bacho Akhalaia. "The black PR which is underway pursues the only goal to marginalize defense lawyers of Bacho Akhalaia in the eyes of society. Akhalaia has been acquitted in six out of seven charges owing to the defense lawyers who suceeded in proving his innocence," Oniani said.

Oniani has said that Levan Mdinaradze is a closest friend of the former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili's son Bera. "If this person [Mdinaradze] believed that the law was violated, why has he waited for a year and a half after the change in power and did not file a complaint with the prosecutor's office or other relevant agencies and did not show a desire to defend his rights so far? This person accuses me today. His friendship with high officials of the current government is not an indulgence for him," Oniani said.

Moreover, Giorgi Oniani has said that his former employees in the Gldani-Nadzaladevi Police Department continue to work in the Interior Ministry and some of them have been even promoted, including the current Interior Minister Aleksandre Chikaidze. Oniani insists that they be questioned too regarding the charges against him.

This is the second charge leveled against Giorgi Oniania. According to the investigation, in the first case Oniani, under the identical scenario, illegally detained the manager of Dao-Print LTD, Davit Shatirishvili, for producing T-shirts with the Georgian Dream logo. For this accusation, Oniani was detained in his apartment on 26 February 2014. The Tbilisi city court released him on 20,000 GEL bail.

 

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