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Rights Group Challenges Russia over Khurcha Murder
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 12 Jan.'18 / 14:22

The Georgian Young Lawyers Association, a Tbilisi-based rights watchdog and legal advocacy group, has lodged an application to the European Court of Human Rights against the Russian Federation over the murder of Giga Otkhozoria, a thirty-year-old Georgian citizen, who was killed in the Khurcha incident near Abkhazia on May 19, 2016.

GYLA, which submitted the complaint on behalf of Otkhozoria’s family, claims in the application that there was a violation of Article 2 (Right to life) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights by the Russian Federation.

“Responsibility for violations of human rights as entailed by the European Convention on Human Rights in the occupied territory of Abkhazia, as well as for activities of the de-facto authorities of Abkhazia, rests on the Russian Federation as a country exercising effective control over the territory,” GYLA wrote in its press release on January 12.

Giga Otkhozoria was murdered by Rashid Kanji-Ogli, an Abkhaz serviceman, on the Tbilisi-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.

CCTV footage from the scene showed a group of camouflaged men, apparently under the command of the Russian-backed Sokhumi authorities, crossing to the Tbilisi-controlled territory from Abkhazia, pursuing and shooting an unarmed civilian several times, and retreating back to the occupied territory.

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 Tbilisi’s request. Sokhumi authorities, who had claimed earlier that Kanji-Ogli was put on house arrest, dropped charges against him on April 21, 2017, citing Tbilisi’s failure to send “necessary” case-related evidence, which the former denied as “absurd.”

The decision of Sokhumi authorities to drop charges against Kanji-Ogli was condemned by the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia and the European Union, which said the move prevented “justice taking its rightful course.”

The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights rules on individual or state applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

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