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What Makes More Frequent the Facts of Murder in Armed forces

What makes more frequent the facts of murder in Armed forces Several days ago the soldier Levan Songulashvili of Kutaisi brigade 3 of Georgian Armed forces died. In accordance with the version of Military Police of  Defence Ministry Songulashvili committed suicide but this version is not convincing for his family members, so the relatives categorically deny the fact of suicide. As they state he is brutally beaten before death and then he is shot from behind.

According to the official information the incident took place at the military base of  village Gagna of Terjola Region. The representative of Military Police Emzar Garibashvili declares that the military officer Zurab Pokerashvili, Ioseb Gzirishvili and Levan Songulashvili had dispute.”Levan Songulashvili has wounded by firearms Pokerashvili and Gzirishvili and then killed himself. The other details of incident are unknown for investigation.”-said Garibashvili.

Songulashvili’s parents exclude the fact of suicide and they talk about murder, which in their opinion is connected to the dispute happened recently.

“I talked with Levani for the last time On October 7. He told me that  in brigade one soldier was beaten by officers. That’s why I think they got rid of the witness.”-tells us Songulashvili’s mother Ana Chaladze.

Songulashvili’s relatives suppose that the beaten soldier was himself Songulashvili, although he didn’t tell the truth to the family members.

As it turned out the officers demanded sum of money from Songulashvili.  The friends of dead soldier state that brigade commanders knew  about the savings of Songulashvili who earned it during his 10 months service in Iraq. According to their information  Levani refused to give  them money and after that physically abused him.

Talking with the family members of Songulashvili  the representative of Military Police Emzar Garibashvili stated another version:” Before the day of incident we have released Levan for certain reasons. If they released him then  what he had to do on military base? –asks Songulashvili’s aunt Lali Zirakishvili.

The relatives of  Songualshvili’s family took some photos of  deceased  and gave it to the independent expert. The specialists state that Songulashvili is brutally beaten, he has heavy injurious on body and bleedings on the area of face, head and stomach. As well as he has input fatal wound on the left side of his neck. This fact indicates us that Levani didn’t commit suicide, he was killed.

It is worth to mention that such facts are quite frequent in recent times.  On July 13, 2007 one of the called up soldier in Upper Abkhazia for peacekeeping mission 21years-old Levan Natatrashvili died. Before that fact 19 years-old Giorgi Mumladze was killed imprudently at the Upliscikhe Military Unit etc.

Why are  so frequent the facts of murders or suicide in the Armed Forces? We address with that question to the military expert, the Director of Association Justice And Freedom, Irakli Sesiashvili.

   -Mr. Irakli what is the reason of such frequent murders in the Armed Forces?

-In spite of ongoing reforms in the Armed Forces, which improve conditions, the rights of  military officers are not protected and nothing has be done for eradicating the unregulated relations in army. When we talk about the rights of military officers the officials indicate us to the high wages and improved conditions and it has already mean that the officials of Defense Ministry cannot realize the current problems existed in Army, which ended by the death of some soldiers. It is difficult to talk about the details of concrete cases, however the investigation process is going now, although it’s obvious that the interests of injured person should be protected by lawyers. Our society has the right to know the real reasons of this tragedy and this will be prevention for everybody.

- And what bout the protection of military officers’ rights, why is the high risk of unregulated relations in Georgian Army?

-Because  in the Armed Forces doesn’t exist the real mechanism for protecting Human rights.
Injured soldier is obliged to address his commander with a claim, who actually is the first infringer of his/her rights. The other option is to appeal the high commander which is also not effective as he may be punished for letting down. As well as the soldiers are avoiding to address to the Military Police because they don’t trust them for their dishonest behaviors. Accordingly in the Armed Forces or in the intergovernmental departments there is no legal mechanism and in case of considering the fallacious views that  the soldier have to clear up the case in the family(Army) and their  complaint is envisaged negatively. In addition with such wrong views the soldiers have to collect money and bring it to the so called “obshiak,” Also they have to lend their mobile phones which unfortunately grows into conflict and causes tragedy. And only their names are known for society.

-When the soldier knows that his rights are not protected in army, then whom he can apply- The committee of Human Rights of Parliament, Public Defender or whom?

-We have to envisage that the military life demands the barrack-like life and it is not so easy in case of violation of soldier’s rights  to address the lawyer or the Public Defender at once. That’s why in developed countries are a lot of institutional organs whose representatives go themselves to the military bases. On one hand they have a preventive impact on them and on the other hand they react adequately on the present problems of every level. They utilize political and social means. It is not so in our country and our government doesn’t have any interest to be so, because if in army will exist such mechanisms the problems being in army will be obvious for the public, which will effect negatively to the image of our government.

-So what is the solution?
- Our organization prepared the bill about “the Military Attorney of Parliament” and the same model has been  approved in Germany since 1956. It is very effective from the viewpoint of protecting Human Rights. This is the institute of Parliamentary Ombudsmen, which is focused only on the protecting of military officer’s rights and it will be  the guarantee of  encouraging democratic reforms in the Army.
When the protection of military officer’s rights are not so easy, the risk of violation of Human Rights increases as well as increases the feeling of  injustice because there is a great possibility that  such crimes will not see the day light. And this attitude weakens the motivation to struggle for the protection of your rights.
And finally despite this the rights of military officers are improved and we can see progress in this regard. It  happened not  because of the reforms but because of the recent events such as the sharp increase of defense budget and participation in the international missions. When the country strives for the integration into  NATO and shares democratic values it is obvious and necessary to create more effective and strong institutions along with the civil control for protecting   the rights of military officers. It is unacceptable when the soldier dies during the peaceful period  notwithstanding the form of his/her death.

Gela Mtivliashvili
From Kakheti

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