Police Officers Beat Suspects in Tsalenjikha
Nana Pazhava, Zugdidi
The Tsalenjikha Police Department police officers beat Tornike Kvaratskhelia and Raibul Pipia ruthlessly on December 11, 2008. The physically assaulted men were suspected of stealing a car and upon searching the suspects, the police “discovered” Marihuana with a hand grenade. Both Tornike Kvaratskhelia and Raibul Pipia deny that they had anything to do with the car thief. They also say that both Marihuana and hand grenade were planted on them by the police. Temur Kardava, the attorney of the suspects managed to meet with his clients only after 14 hours following their arrest.
At 11:00 PM on December 11 Tsalenjikha district policemen arrested Tornike Kvaratskhelia and Raibul Pipia when they were returning home from Svaneti region. Certain G. Kurua was also detained along with them as he had accompanied them from Khaishi.
Murtaz Kvaratskhelia, father of Tornike Kvaratskhelia: “The only thing I know is that on December 8 my son went to Svaneti in his “Uaz” car together with Raibul Pipia. He and his friend were to bring back some wooden materials. On December 11 we were reported about their detention. Policemen, who they knew, stopped them at the Phtskho-Jvari crossroad and informed them that policemen from Tsalenjikha wanted to see them. They were asked to wait for law enforcers and forty minutes later special unit appeared there and pushed all three down to the grounds. My son and Raibul Pipia were ruthlessly beaten.”
All three suspects were taken to Tsalenjikha district police station at 12:00 AM. Raibul Pipia saw his brother Anzor Pipia in the isolator cell, as he had also been arrested. Anzor Pipia, who has been already released, reported us all the details about his detention and harassment in the custody. He said that the head of Tsalenjikha police department personally beat him.
Anzor Pipia: “Ruslan Shomakhia, the head of the police department, cursed me and hit me in the head twice. He was going to kick me too but other policemen stopped him. The incident happened in the office of the police station. Before that, I was detained in my house in the village of Kvale in Lesale district, Samegrelo region. I am a foreman and repair cars. I was under a car when a new car drove up in the yard. There were several people in the car and one of them was my neighbor. As soon as they asked me to repair their car, somebody shouted “it is police”. Really, some policemen entered in the yard. The new-comers ran away and I remained with their car alone which was stolen from Zugdidi. Many cars are brought to me everyday to fix and how can I control the origin or ownership of them?”
As it was found out, policemen doubted on Raibul Pipia after Anzor Pipia gave away the name of one thief to the police officers. During the conversation with the Human Rights Center, Pipia did not repeat the name of the car thief. However, he stated that the only connection between his brother and Kvaratskhelia and the thief is the Ukraine. As he said, “the three people lived in the country at different times and they ran a business there.”
Reportedly, police learned the name and criminal activities of the car thieves long before. One criminal fact is assisted, and this is how the thief managed to obtain immunity from the police. According to this information, the thief was arrested when he was robbing the car where large amount of money was kept. This money disappeared from the car so that officers from the Internal Ministry were not mentioned in case materials at all.
According to the same information, the thief was granted with freedom in exchange of silence. He did not mention in his testimony that stolen money had disappeared from the stole car. The Human Rights Center also learned that Ruslan Shomakhia, the head of the Tsalenjikha police department, was the person who made a deal with criminals and demanded criminals to keep the name of policeman secret as who ad misappropriated the money.
Temur Kvardava, lawyer: “I have not been reported yet whether the police are looking for the person who was named by Pipia as a being the car thief. According to my information, however, an investigation is going on and it is breaching the law. The search protocol does not mention what prevented the investigator from drawing up the document at the scene of crime. However, it states that Kvaratskhelia and Pipia were arrested as suspects. Kvaratskhelia was sentenced with a five-day term of imprisonment under administrative code for being under influence of Marihuana; as for Pipia, the search protocol states, policemen found a hand grenade on him. G. Kurua was interrogated as witness and was released that evening.”
The attorney of the detainees requests to carry out alternative medical expertise for being under the influence of Marihuana and also for being a suspect in the beating. As for the harassment on the detainees, the relatives claim that screaming was heard from the custody all night. The detainees were crying out for help and afterwards the police provided him with medicines. Reportedly, Tornike Kvaratskhelia, former policemen of the Samegrelo Zemo Svaneti regional department, was being sought after for last two years. Tengiz Gunava, the head of the regional police department, is named as being the personal rival of Kvaratskhelia.
Administrative imprisonment of Tornike Kvaratskhelia is due to end at 8; 00 AM of December 17. However, on December 16 attorney Temur Kardava spread important information: the police intend to interrogate the detainee one hour before the term of imprisonment is up.
Temur Kardava: “Investigator Dato Tsulaia did not allow me to study the case materials. I learned about intended interrogation from the police officers. Supposedly, there is an additional charge for being in the illegal possession of bullets, which was attached to case materials on Kvaratskhelia. The investigator demanded to “work” on the detainee properly in order to compel him to “cope-a-plea” and admit to being guilty. The detainee was offered to be released in exchange for the plea bargain agreement. I already have three witnesses who saw the circumstances of the detention and they state that Kvaratskhelia was resisting police for planting drugs on him.”
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