Tbilisi 15:58 - 10.03.17 «GHN»
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The hearing on the case of Iberia TV closure and the seizure of its broadcasting license was resumed with the examination of prosecution’s evidence.

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 seized.

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 shares.

“Saakashvili’s goal was to occupy Iberia TV, because he was worried that this television was independent and beyond his control,” – Batiashvili said.

The witness emphasized the resistance of Zaza Okuashvili then and said that he was categorically against of any compromise with the government.

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 announced.

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.


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