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Jailed Georgian actor charged with organised drug trafficking

2 April 2018
Giorgi Giorganashvili (Facebook)

Giorgi ‘Bakhala’ Giorganashvili, a Georgian actor sentenced to eight years in prison in January on drug charges, has now been charged with organised drug trafficking. The Interior Ministry claims Giorganashvili was involved in a plot to smuggle drugs from Turkey to Georgia in an ambulance; if convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison, or life imprisonment.

Tbilisi City Court sentenced Giorganashvili to eight years in prison on 23 January for possession of buprenorphine, an opioid used to treat opioid addiction. He was arrested in January 2017 while travelling by taxi from Turkey to Tbilisi through Batumi. The prosecution said police had found 45 pills containing buprenorphine on Giorganashvili. He claimed that police had planted the drugs on him.

The Interior Ministry announced on Monday they had charged Giorganashvili with ‘illegally purchasing and storing especially large amounts of drugs’ and importing them to Georgia. Where committed by an organised group, the charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, or life imprisonment.

The charges

Giorganashvili was charged along with two other Georgian citizens — Irakli Koridze and Jaba Khulordava. The Interior Ministry claimed the three had hatched ‘a criminal conspiracy’ to illegally import drugs from Turkey to Georgia in January 2017.

According to the ministry, Giorganashvili, with financial support from Koridze, travelled to Turkey from 18–24 January, where he ‘illegally purchased 900 pills which contained especially large amounts of buprenorphine’.

Khulordava, the ministry claimed, travelled to the Turkish city of Trabzon on 23 January by ambulance, and secretly met with Giorganashvili there the following day. The Ministry said Koridze, who was the director of the Catastrophe Medicine Centre in Tbilisi, had helped Khulordava get a job as an ambulance driver at the hospital.

Giorganashvili passed the drugs to Khulordava outside a hospital in Trabzon, which Khulordava then hid in the ambulance, the ministry said.

The ambulance, driven by Khulordava, was searched on the road to Tbilisi on 25 January, the ministry added, and the drugs ‘given to Khulordava by Giorganashvili’, were found.