Former SSG Deputy Head Alleges Ivanishvili Threatened His Family
Ioseb (Soso) Gogashvili, former deputy head of the State Security Service of Georgia (SSG) currently in pretrial detention, released a letter from prison on 11 August alleging that ruling Georgian Dream founder, Bidzina Ivanishvili, threatened him with the “destruction of his family” if Gogashvili “does not stop” what he is doing and “give the desired testimony.”
“I might find out that my family has died of a CO leak, a fire, or a car accident. In the best case scenario, they will plant [weapons or drugs] on my family members and close entourage and they will be caught…,” Gogashvili writes in the Facebook post, adding that he received the threat in prison but without specifying the identity of the person who gave him the message.
The former deputy head of the SSG blames Ivanishvili and his family for the “illegalities” committed against those close to Gogashvili and emphasized that “together with my family, I will continue to fight for justice and continue the whistle-blowing campaign.”
“I appeal to the Public Defender, politicians, regardless of their position, NGOs, human rights defenders, the diplomatic corps and the media – to protect my innocent family,” Gogashvili said and asked those close to him to “physically” protect his family.
Gogashvili’s Lawyer, Family Respond
On 11 August, Gogashvili’s lawyer, Ramaz Chinchaladze, held a press conference in which he explained that the former SSG deputy head was taken to the shower of the 12th penitentiary and instructed to answer the phone sitting on the ledge, from which the Minister of Internal Affairs, Vakhtang Gomelauri, spoke to him.
“The conversation was about threats… the main request was that he [Gogashvili] should give the testimony they wanted, regarding the issues that Ioseb Gogashvili has voiced,” the lawyer said, emphasizing that it is known from which number Gogashvili was contacted and which number was placed in the phone he used.
Per Chinchaladze, Gogashvili used adhesive tape on his hand to take fingerprints from the mobile phone. “As far as I know, the mentioned evidence has already been taken out of the penitentiary institution, and we, the lawyers, will try to conduct examinations to see if it is suitable for identification,” he added.
Dimitri Ghonghadze, Gogashvili’s other lawyer, specified that his client spoke to the Minister of Internal Affairs four times. “Especially during this incident, all guards were released from the third floor [of the prison], that is, no one was there,” he said, and emphasized that “the first two cases were organized by the head of the institution, Zurab Modebadze, who indicated to Gogashvili to enter the showers.”
At the press conference, Gogashvili’s wife, Tea Martkoplishvili, said that in case any harm comes to their family members or relatives, or a provocation is arranged, she will hold Gomelauri, Grigol Liluashvili, the Head of the State Security Service of Georgia, and Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, personally responsible.
Per Martkoplishvili, her husband’s safety is not protected, “everything is agreed with Bidzina Ivanishvili and that’s how it all happens.”
Martkoplishvili also denoted that despite them being unable to see or speak with Gogashvili till now, “all of a sudden, out of nowhere, we were taken in to see my husband twice.”
Public Defender Responds
On 12 August, the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia called on the Special Investigation Service (SIS) to conduct a timely and effective investigation into the allegations. In the meantime, the Public Defender’s Office urged law enforcement agencies to protect Gogashvili’s family.
Justice Ministry Respond
While speaking with journalists on 12 august, the Minister of Justice, Rati Bregadze, confirmed that Gogashvili did indeed meet with his family “at his own request and in full compliance with legislation.”
Regarding another letter circulated by the former SSG deputy head in which he talks about “inhumane treatment” and confirms that he received a threat from Ivanishvili from the Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister Bregadze said that “he [Gogashvili] met with employees, including, with the doctors, [and] always expressed his gratitude towards them, and the meeting that was held, among other things, was held [because] his behavior was very positive, and this meeting was used as a kind of incentive measure.”
According to the Justice Minister, one of the goals of organizing the meeting with the family members was that they themselves “made sure that his safety is not in danger.”
When asked by journalists whether the Minister confirms that Gogashvili was really taken to the shower, he answered, “What do I have to confirm?… In the penitentiary institution, absolutely all actions are carried out on the basis of the law, and no illegal action can be carried out there.”
“In general, all prisoners enjoy the right to enter the shower, including Mr. Gogashvili, and naturally, maybe he used this right and entered the shower,” he added.
Asked whether the Minister spoke with the head of the 12th penitentiary institution, Minister Bregadze stated, “… this information is of a somewhat personal nature and I do not talk about the personal information of convicts.”
Note: This article was updated on 12 August at 18:00 to reflect the comments of the Minister of Justice, Rati Bregadze.
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