Threat of stripping of EU Membership
06 October, 2011
Threat of stripping of EU Membership

“Death of Frenkel in prison would generate enormous frustration”

Almost one year has passed since the imprisonment of two Israeli businessmen – Roni Fuks and Zeev Frenkel. Yet, the international scandal continues to get more and more acute. An article recently published in Israeli press says that Israel is likely to ask the Council of Europe to annul the Georgian membership.

The Israeli businessmen were caught last year for allegedly attempting to bribe the deputy Finance Minister. Subsequently, Fuks and Frenkel

were sentenced to 6.5- and 7.5-year imprisonment respectively. This case severely strained Georgian-Israeli relations. Even though Israelis did not break the diplomatic etiquette, they nevertheless resorted to some gestures clearly indicating to the Georgian Authorities that they would not put up with such insults. It is hard to say how the events would unfold further after the Israelis learn that Zeev Frenkel suffered a heart attack after being subjected to inhumane treatment in Georgian prison. The Israeli press has been trying to cash in on religious aspect for a long time, noting that harassment of Israeli businessmen included even inducing them to eat pork.
Roni Fuks who serves the term in Ksani #15 prison was visited by his lawyer Archil Kbilashvili and Israeli Consul. In their presence Fuks confirmed in a written form that the facts of his persecution indeed took place.
Archil Kbilashvili: Frenkel has a weak heart and he also suffers from diabetes. First I sent in some medications and then went there myself to see his condition. He told me he had not received the medicine which I sent to him earlier. Later, Frenkel got sick. They immediately delivered the medications to him but it was late. He had already suffered the heart attack. To save him, an emergency open surgery had to be performed. The heart attack resulted from the absence of medications and stress-ridden living conditions. That night entire staffs of the Departments of Special Operations and Constitutional Security were on their feet swarming in the prison out of fear that Frenkel’s possible death would have caused great trouble. It seems some people were fed up with the uncompromised position of Frenkel and Fuks. 11 months passed since the Georgian court sentenced them to imprisonment but the Authorities could not resolve the problem of 100 million dollars. The Israeli businessmen insist that they are innocent. Apparently, this led some people to show to Fuks and Frenkel the real worth of Georgian prison.
Gela Nikoleishvili, Human Rights Defender: “The Authorities want the businessmen to admit the non-existent crime so that Saakashvili regime evades paying the debt in favor of the businessmen imposed on Georgia by the international court.
The Israeli embassy sent a note of protest to the Georgian Authorities demanding to put the end to all harassments and start the new investigation of the case. However, the official Tbilisi maintains a total silence so far.

Excerpts from the Roni Fuks diary:
14 September. They told me there would be no more hot water and hence no more shower for me;
15 September. The Israeli Ambassador was visiting me. The meeting took place in the office of the prison chief. That evening they said there would be no more special food (saltless and sugarless; Fuks suffers from diabetes – Kh. P.) and I would not be allowed anymore to take the food to my cell;
17 September. At 2am the doors of my cell were suddenly set ajar and three black- masked men entered. They swiftly turned on the lights, forced everybody in the cell to get to their feet and stand in front of the walls, with hands raised over their heads. Next, they rummaged through my bed throwing clothes and medications on to the floor. They superficially searched through items and beds of other inmates too.
19 September. At 5.30am masked men rushed into my cell again. They ordered me to get up, stand facing the wall and raise my hands. Again, they scattered my belongings and medications around the floor.
20 September. At 12.30am men in black clothes and masks again swarmed into my cell. As before, they forced me up and pushed me to the wall with hands raised, only to throw my personal items around the floor again. One of them told me in Georgian that I had a big problem. He used bad language regarding my mother and swore some more. I cannot repeat these words here. They returned at 2am. They brought a silver-colored package and opened it asking me if I knew what was inside it. I said no. They said it was cocaine. Then they demanded my bag. I showed it to them. They immediately put the cocaine into my bag and announced that this crime was punishable by 20 years of prison. After that they left. A new inmate said to me that I had problems worth of 100 million dollars.

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