|The hearing on the case of Iberia TV closure and the seizure
of its broadcasting license was resumed with the examination of prosecution’s
The court interrogated the witness of the prosecution,
Irakli Batiashvili, who narrated the period of 2006, when the Omega Group’s
companies were raided by riot police and the Iberia TV broadcasting license was
As the witness testified, Zaza Okuashvili was his friend and
therefore, he had got the information about the pressure by the government for
the seizure of the holding’s control stock from Zaza.
For instance, he recollected December 2003, when Zaza
Okuashvili told him about his meeting with businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili.
“Zaza Okuashvili told me that he had met with Badri
Patarkatsishvili, who warned him about possible problems regarding his business
and if he did not want this to happen, he should findsomea compromise with the
government. Then we agreed to wait for further developments.
Later, in February 2004, Iberia TV and Omega Group’s factory
was subjected to a vandal raid. When I was reported about the riot police raid,
I went to Iberia TV first, where I saw the masked gunmen positioned everywhere,
people were in panic and alarmed, staff was shocked. Zaza Okuashvili, Nato
Chkheidze, Luba Eliashvili and others were there too. The situation was
awkward. The officers were aggressive and running after the journalists to
prevent them from shooting the videos. The situation was aggressive and
everything was startled. Both Iberia and the factory stopped to operate.
After this incident, I had another call from Zaza, who told
me that he had met with Bari Patarkatsishvili again and the latter was
persistently trying to convince him to give up the control stock of his
business – 51% or else he would be arrested”, - Batiashvili said and added that
from Zaza Okuashvili he had learnt that Patarkatsishvili’s interest was focused
specifically on Iberia TV when they touched the issue of giving up the business
“Saakashvili’s goal was to occupy Iberia TV, because he was
worried that this television was independent and beyond his control,” –
The witness emphasized the resistance of Zaza Okuashvili
then and said that he was categorically against of any compromise with the
According to witness Batiashvili, another meeting between
Badri Patarkatsishvili and Zaza Okuashvili took place in spring 2004, where the
51% offer of giving up the company shares increased up to 60-65%.
“He [Patarkatsishvili] told him [Okuashvili] to take a
decision in time and there the conversation was about 60-65% of shares instead
of 51% as previously. He even named the persons, to whom the shares would be
transferred and Mikheil Saakashvili was top figure among them. Badri told him
that everything had been agreed with Saakashvili. Zaza’s position was steady
again and said he did not intend to give up his business”, - Batiashvili
As for other persons, to whom the company shares would be
transferred, according to the witness, they were Badri Patarkatsishvili, Vano
Chkhartishvili, Levan Bezhashvili and Irakli Okruashvili.
Batiashvili also recollected the meeting with Besarion
Keidia, where he was also present, where the threat about Okuashvili’s
detention was reiterated in case he refused to give up his business.
“Afterwards, Zaza fled Georgia and since then I had
communication with his close circles and wife, Nato Chkheidze, who told me
later that Zaza was forced to give up Iberia TV license and when the company
shares were transferred to the authorities, Zurab Adeishvili was the prosecutor
general of Georgia”, - Batiashvili said.
He also added that after his first meeting with Badri
Patarkatsishvili, Zaza Okuashvili also met with Kibar Khalvashi, whose advice
was the same – to go on compromise, but Omega Group’s owner said “no” again.
In his testimony, Irakli Batiashvili emphasized that Zaza
Okuashvili was directly accusing Mikheil Saakashvili of organizing raids in
Omega Group and Iberia TV, as well as the seizure of broadcasting license.
It should be noted that the case of Iberia TV closure and
the seizure of its broadcasting license was investigated by the prosecutor’s
office in February, 2016. According to the investigation body, former
prosecutor general Zurab Adeishvili and his first deputy Giorgi Latsabidze were
prosecuted for this crime. The next hearing on the case will be held at 13:00
on March 20.