Assaulted Auditor General of Georgia Does Not Trust Investigation

Georgia’s State Audit Office Head, Lasha Tordia, who was physically assaulted several days ago, says that he does not trust the investigation that is underway into his case.

Tordia says he was attacked by Otar Partskhaladze, the former Chief Prosecutor, and his security personnel in El Centro nightclub in central Tbilisi. The victim stressed that the assault was related to a specific case that the Auditor’s Office is investigating. According to him, the case involves the transfer of plots of land in 2016, and Partskhaladze’s name is involved in the case.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia launched the investigation under Article 126 of the Criminal Code of Georgia which criminalizes battery and other violent acts.

The Auditor General alleges that the Prosecutor’s Office, the Interior Ministry and the Financial Police are colluding against him to defend Partskhaladze, who was the Prosecutor General in 2013. Tordia claimed that the police seized the footage from security cameras in the nightclub soon after the incident, which “will clearly show the truth of the matter,” however, he said he suspects the police may “cut” or “delete” said footage. “I’m sure that now they are getting testimonies from me and then they will make a statement that will be directed against me,” Tordia said.

Partskhaladze rejected all charges. A day after the incident, he released a letter claiming that the conflict was initiated by Tordia, who allegedly was heavily drunk. After questioning on May 17, he said the incident was very short-lived and denied assaulting the Auditor General. Partskhaladze’s lawyers stated the ex-chief prosecutor’s guards had to stop Tordia, since he initiated the confrontation. His lawyers also claimed that the injuries Tordia received were “self-inflicted.”

The president, NGOs and the opposition have demanded an urgent investigation into the case.

A number of NGOs released a statement urging the government and Parliament of Georgia “to take timely steps to address the problem of impunity and to create an effective independent investigative mechanism.” They also called on the investigative agencies to timely disclose information on the investigation so far.

Georgia’s Parliament Speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze, says it is important to wait for the investigation results and then make comments. “We call on the law enforcement agencies to investigate this case as soon as possible. This is very important for Parliament, as we have a special relationship with the Audit Office. This case will remain under our special supervision," the Speaker said.

The opposition United National Movement (UNM) said the investigation will be a test for the Georgian Dream ruling team, to prove that the country is not being run by former officials from the backstage.

Parliamentary minority Movement for Freedom-European Georgia demanded the creation of an independent parliamentary investigative commission, which will study the case and reveal the truth.

The State Audit Office is an agency that presents findings on the activities of government entities to Parliament. “Georgia’s State Audit Office is directly subordinated to Parliament and the incident that happened to the Auditor General directly applies to Parliament,” Zurab Chiaberashvili from European Georgia said.

On May 17, the State Audit Office Staff released a statement regarding the case. They addressed Parliament, the President, the government, and local and international organizations, asking them to ensure proper functioning of the body.

The State Audit Office employees confirmed they were supporting Tordia in the situation and condemned any attempt to somehow discredit the activities of the agency.

Thea Morrison

18 May 2017 18:24