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Posted on: 04 Apr 2014

A statement of NGOs regarding the case of Shalva Tatukhashvili

We, non-governmental organizations, express concern regarding the information disseminated by the family and lawyer of Shalva Tatukhashvili about his alleged mistreatment by law enforcement bodies and the circumstances of his death. Due to serious doubts that have arisen about this case and the high interest of the public, we consider it necessary that the Parliament of Georgia satisfy the request of the family of the deceased to create an investigatory commission, in order to ensure the impartiality and objectivity of the investigation.

Several days ago, the media disseminated information about the death of Shalva Tatukhashvili. According to the statement[1] of the family of the deceased, which was published by Tatukhashvili's lawyer I. Zakareishvili, Sh. Tatukhashili was kidnapped twice by representatives of a law enforcement body and subjected to physical and psychological pressure to make him testify to the investigation against the former head of the Department of Constitutional Security, Data Akhalaia. Together with the statement of the family, Sh. Tatukhashvili's lawyer published photos that show injuries on Sh. Tatukhashvili's body,[2] including traces of an alleged burn, which gives rise to serious doubts that Sh. Tatukhashvili became a victim of mistreatment while he was alive. The authenticity of the photos is confirmed by the protocol on the inspection of the dead body[3] which describes the same injuries and bears the signatures of an inspector-investigator of the police, a forensic-medical expert, the lawyer, and a family member of the deceased.

In response to the statement made by Sh. Tatukhashvili's family and lawyer, the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia published a statement[4] that assesses the information disseminated by Sh. Tatukhashvili's family and the lawyer as a lie and an attempt to discredit the Prosecutor's Office. The aforementioned statement clearly shows the bias of the Chief Prosecutor's Office towards the aforementioned case. Specifically, it is unclear what gives the Chief Prosecutor's Office the grounds to completely rule out the statements of the lawyer and family members of Sh. Tatukhashvili about the injuries on the dead body and their origin and to call them total absurd, whereas, as noted in the statement of the Chief Prosecutor's Office, the forensic-medical examination is still going on and it is impossible to make corresponding conclusions about the method of inflicting the injuries, age of the injuries, and causes of death until the examination is completed. It is difficult to expect an objective investigation from a body which makes a statement that puts more emphasis on discrediting the lawyer than on providing the public with objective information about the investigation. It should be noted that the aforementioned statement of the Prosecutor's Office is also problematic in terms of upholding Shalva Tatukhashvili's presumption of innocence. In addition, there are questions about other circumstances of the case, including the inquiry into the alleged kidnapping of Sh. Tatukhashvili which was carried out by the General Inspection[5] of the Chief Prosecutor's Office and which presumably established the absence of the fact of kidnapping only by questioning Sh. Tatukhashvili.

With the statement of April 2, 2014, the Chief Prosecutor's Office created additional question marks about the case of Sh. Tatukhashvili, instead of clarifying the circumstances of the case. Thus, it is unclear on what legal grounds Sh. Tatukhashvili was detained on the night of March the 17th and the 18th in a night bar located in Lilo and later transferred to the Chief Prosecutor's Office. The Chief Prosecutor's Office also disseminated mutually exclusive information as to whether Sh. Tatukhashvili was still involved in the special program of protection of witnesses on March 18, whereas it named his involvement in the aforementioned program as the cause of his transfer to the Prosecutor's Office. It also gives rise to doubts and indicates to pressure that on March 18, Sh. Tatukhashvili, who had not slept at night and had received alcohol, was first interrogated by an investigator for an hour and a half - from 14:30 to 15:50, as indicated in the protocol on interrogation, and then by the General Inspection of the Prosecutor's Office.

It should be noted that Shalva Tatukhashvili's case is not the first one in which well-founded doubts have arisen in terms of the effectiveness and impartiality of investigation. Proceeding from the aforementioned, we call on the authorities of Georgia to appropriately fulfill the obligations imposed on them and to ensure effective and impartial investigation into the cases related to serious violations of human rights, which, together with other aspects, implies genuine independence of the body conducting an investigation and ensuring an adequate degree of public control on the investigation and its conclusions.

Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)

Transparency International - Georgia (TI - Georgia)

Media Development Foundation (MDF)

Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)