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The Families of Vazagashvili and Robakidze Plan to Hold Protests

26.08.2009
Ana Sheshaberidze

Buta Robakidze would have become 24 on August 24. He was killed at Didube church in 2004 by Grigol Bashaleishvili, a patrol police officer. Grigol Bashaleishvili was sentenced to 4 years in prison . However, Zurab Mikadze and Guram Donadze, whom the family of Buta Robakidze considers as patrons of the killer, have not been punished. They have not been interrogated in the course of court proceedings. They continue working in theMinistry of Internal Affairs.

The family of Buta Robakidze demands that they be declared as victims and that the prosecutor’s office publish the investigation materials of the Robakidze’s killing.

The family of Buta Robakidze and representatives of opposition parties held a press conference in a hall named after Zurab Vazagashvili, a person who was killed during a special operation. They had two demands: the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia declare the family of Buta Robakidze as victims and the information about the investigation of the case of Buta Robakidze’s killing became public.

The parents of some of those young people who were  killed by  law enforcement officers  established an NGO “Save Life”. The NGO is headed by Yuri Vazagashvili( his son was killed by police officers during a special operation in 2006), Soso Robakidze (the father of  Buta Robakidze who was killed by a police officer in 2004), Jambul Gamtsemlidze (his son was killed by a patrol police officer in 2008) and Giga Gerkiladze. They are supported by youth movement “November 7”, Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, a leader of Freedom Party, Lasha Chkhartishvili from the Republic Party and other opposition leaders. 

Lasha Chkhartishvili thinks that Mikheil Saakashvili, Vano Merabishvili and Zurab Adeishvili are responsible for the killing of these young people who died during special operations or by police officers. He says that the peaceful struggle for restoration of justice and punishing perpetrators continues.

Yuri Vazagashvili states that NGO Save Life will never cease  functioning and will fight for the restoration of justice. “The families who were plunged into misery by Saakashvili, Adeishvili and Merabishvili decided to unite and struggle for at least partially restoring justice in this country,” said he.

As mentioned above, the families of the young people who were killed are supported by the youth movement “November 7”. The youth movement is planning to organize protests for the support of these families. The time and venue of the protests will be announced in the near future. The members of the movement do not believe that the courts render unbiased verdicts; they think the only way to achieve their goals is by protests.

54 persons died in four years as a consequence of a law enforcement officers using weapon

The Human Rights Centre is investigating the cases of Vazagashvili and Robakidze. Ana Natsvlishvili, a lawyer of Human Rights Centre states that not a single case of a police officer eliminating a life of a person was investigated fully. There are several examples in which a court adjudicated such cases but the punishment imposed on the police officer was not adequate to the crime actually committed.

Ana Natsvlishvili thinks that the  procedural rights of the victims’ legal successors also are  often violated in Georgia. According to the law, next-of-kin of a deceased person is entitled to be recognized as a legal successor of a victim and thus –a party to the proceedings. Being a party guarantees the next –of – kin a set of rights including access to case materials. However, according to Natsvlishvili the right to be recognized as a legal successor of a victim is often violated in Georgia, consequently the next-of –kin often is deprived access to the case materials.

The Human Rights Centre requested statistical data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Chief Prosecutor’s Office with the Ministry of Justice concerning the special operations which ended with  loss of life.  It turned out that the Chief Prosecutor’s Office says it does not have this information. The Ministry of Internal Affairs informed that “83 police officers died during the  of their duties from 2005 up to present time and 54 other persons died due to the usage of weapons by a law enforcer from 2005 up to present time.”

Ana Natsvlishvili states that the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers often results in the death of innocent people. However, despite convincing evidence that this is so, the state officials often try to deny this and assert the contrary. “The state has a legal duty to carry out effective and thorough   investigations and establish objective truth in such cases and not – as they do it in Georgia- to simply deny the problem by political statements“ – says Natsvlishvili.

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