The Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office announced Wednesday they had a recording that they claimed proved the country’s ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili had “sanctioned” the killing of Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili, who was found dead in England in 2008.
The Prosecutor’s Office elaborated that they had been studying two recordings they had confiscated in 2016, which reportedly contained information related to the alleged murder plot of Patarkatsishvili.
“The recordings were made on 4 and 5 February of 2007, and the three individuals who have been charged talk about the scenarios of how to kill Patarkatsishvili. They say that they are collecting information about Patarkatsishvili’s bodyguards and personnel and are also discussing poisoning the man with a substance that gives the impression of a natural death.”
According to the statement, all the details of the murder plot were coordinated with the ex-head of the Constitutional Security Department Data Akhalaia.
As part of the investigation, a former official from the Constitutional Security Department (CSD) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs under the United National Movement government Giorgi Merebashvili has been detained, while two other former senior officials from the same agency, Levan Kardava and Revaz Shiukashvili have been charged with plotting murder and abuse of power.
“In particular, in a recording dated February 4, 2007, a high-ranking CSD official G.D. speaks with a member of Badri Patarkatsishvili’s security guards and tries to lure him away. During the conversation, G.D. also confirms that the issue of the murder’s preparation was sanctioned by the then-Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili, since Badri Patarkatsishvili is their political opponent and irreconcilable enemy of the authorities. The recording also states that the CSD was to eliminate him,” the prosecutor office’s statement read.
Patarkatsishvili fled Georgia on November 9, 2007 after facing allegations of planning a coup and settled in the UK. Shortly after his escape he announced that he would run in the January 2008 presidential elections under the slogan “Georgia without Saakashvili is Georgia without terror.”
The tycoon died on February 12, 2008, at his mansion in England, which prompted Surrey police to launch an official investigation into the “suspicious” death. Preliminary reports indicated he had died of a heart attack.
In one of his last interviews, Patarkatsishvili told The Sunday Times that he wouldn’t return to his home country because he didn’t feel safe anywhere and despite the fact that he had 120 bodyguards, he knew “that’s not enough.”