Rusudan Tatunashvili, the mother of Archil Tatunashvili, a thirty-five-year-old Georgian citizen, who died at the hands of the Russian-backed authorities in Tskhinvali on February 22, said the man was “brutally” tortured and had a gunshot wound to the head.
Rusudan Tatunashvili spoke on the circumstances surrounding her son’s death on March 27, three days after the retired Georgian serviceman was laid to rest at Mukhatgverdi military cemetery in the outskirts of Tbilisi.
Speaking to the Tbilisi-based TV Pirveli, Rusudan Tatunashvili said the man regularly crossed into Akhalgori Municipality in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia for the last seven months, where he was trading fruits and vegetables transported from Georgia proper.
Rusudan Tatunashvili specified that the family, including the deceased man, had Tskhinvali-issued “permits,” allowing them to visit their home in village Kanchaveti of Akhalgori Municipality.
“During one of such visits, Archil was detained by Akhalgori police allegedly for drug test, which he did not resist since he was not a drug user… they had him in Akhalgori police for some time and then he was transferred to Tskhinvali police,” Rusudan Tatunashvili noted.
She added, citing unidentified sources from Tskhinvali, that local authorities wanted him to admit that he was “plotting a terrorist act in Tskhinvali to disrupt Putin’s elections (implying the March 18 Russian presidential election in the region),” and that “he was sent by Georgia, with the support of the United States.”
Archil Tatunashvili, according to his mother, refused to do so, with Tskhinvali authorities torturing him “brutally and inhumanely.” She said the man had signs of torture on his hands, legs and face, as well as a gunshot wound “running from the right temple through the left ear.”
“His hands were nailed, his palms were burnt and the backs of his hands were entirely bruised and torn … Two of his fingers were particularly injured, with iron pieces still visible in his finger; the fingers were all battered,” Rusudan Tatunashvili said.
Reports that Tatunashvili was tortured to death emerged shortly after his death, with Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria saying the man was already dead when he was taken to hospital.
According to Irakli Toidze, a forensic expert, who attended the examination at the National Forensics Bureau in Tbilisi, Archil Tatunashvili’s body had “multiple [blunt] injuries, scratches and bruises almost all over the body,” pointing at the likelihood that he was tortured.