The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has formally added the element of torture to the case of death of Archil Tatunashvili, a thirty-five-year-old Georgian citizen, who died while in detention by the Russian-backed authorities in Tskhinvali.
In a statement released on June 6, the prosecutor’s office cited examination by the National Forensics Bureau that listed over one hundred injuries to the body, including wounds, fractures, bruises, hemorrhages and incisions.
“The injuries were inflicted while the victim was still alive as a result of multiple use of rounded items,” the Forensics Bureau said.
The decision to add torture to the case came a shortly after Tamar Avaliani, legal counsel to the Tatunashvili family, criticized the authorities for not amending the investigation case with elements of torture, despite the results of the National Forensics Bureau.
Avaliani also said the Bureau failed to describe all injuries that Tatunashvili had suffered, including spots on his temple and forehead that the family suspected was a gunshot wound, as well as marks on the victim’s nose, which they claimed was artificially fixed. Giorgi Tatunashvili, father of the deceased, has met with the Bureau representatives yesterday to discuss these concerns later commenting that the marks on his son’s nose “were not made while he was still alive.” Avaliani said after the meeting, that the marks on the forehead was due to exfoliation, while the one on the temple has occurred during the examination.
Avaliani also stressed a timely finalization of the more complete conclusion by a commission of forensic experts was essential to determine whether the injuries described by the forensics were fatal, following which the family plans to lodge the complaint against Russian authorities to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
A day later, Tskhinvali authorities reported that during his transfer to a detention cell after being questioned, Tatunashvili fought back and “sustained injuries, was knocked down and rolled down the stairs,” after which he was taken to hospital, where he died of heart failure. Tatunashvili’s body was transferred to the Georgian side a month later, but without internal organs, rendering it difficult to determine the exact cause of his death. His body was laid to rest at Mukhatgverdi military cemetery with full military honors.