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Sokhumi Drops Case against Abkhaz Serviceman Charged with Khurcha Murder
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 2 Jun.'17 / 10:31

Abkhaz authorities announced on May 31 that they dropped charges against Rashid Kanji-Ogli, Abkhaz serviceman, over Khurcha fatal shooting, when Giga Otkhozoria, a thirty-year-old Georgian citizen, was shot dead.

Otkhozoria was murdered on the Georgian-controlled territory at the Khurcha-Nabakevi crossing point between Abkhazia’s predominantly ethnic Georgian-populated Gali district and its adjoining Zugdidi district of Samegrelo region on May 19, 2016.

Kanji-Ogli was tried in absentia by a Georgian court and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was also placed on INTERPOL’s wanted list at the request of Georgian authorities.

The Abkhaz representatives notified Tbilisi of their decision to drop charges against Kanji-Ogli at the 46th Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meeting in Gali. Sokhumi previously claimed it had imposed house arrest for Rashid Kanji-Ogli.

Speaking to local media on June 1, Adgur Agrba, Abkhaz military prosecutor, confirmed that the case was closed on April 21, citing Tbilisi’s failure to send “necessary” case-related evidence to Sokhumi. Georgian State Security Service (SSG), however, told Civil.ge that the claim was “absurd,” and that Tbilisi had “provided comprehensive materials about the case of Giga Otkhozoria’s murder, including photo, video and other evidence” to the authorities in Sokhumi, as well as the international organizations participating in the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meeting in Gali.

Dropping of the criminal charges against Rashid Kanji-Ogli, the SSG stated, is “extremely negative and clearly cynical: the State Security Service will use all available instruments to hold Rashid Kanji-Ogli answerable before the Georgian justice.”

The EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM), which has unarmed monitors on the ground without being able to access the region, commented that “after one full year of intensive work and the handover of investigation materials at the IPRM meetings, this failure to bring justice was a great disappointment.”

Discussions at the IPRM meeting also covered recent cases of detentions at the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL), the closure of the two crossing points and the recent borderization process, referring to the installment of wooden pillars deeper into the Tbilisi-administered territory in Khurcha, a small village in Zugdidi district close to the ABL.

On April 30, local media in Samegrelo Region reported that the Russian servicemen moved two hectares inwards in Khurcha, cutting two local residents - Omar Mikautadze and Arvelod Nachkebia - from their agricultural lands.

Kakhaber Kemoklidze, deputy head at SSG’s department of information and analyses, told reporters after the meeting, that the borderization process “not only affected the security environment on the ground, but also limited the fundamental rights and freedoms of local residents.” According to Kemoklidze, Tbilisi presented specific materials at the IPRM meeting, “proving that the local residents lost access to their agricultural plots as a result of the borderization process.”

The next IPRM meeting is scheduled for June 28.

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