On June 14, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has filed charges in absentia against two South Ossetian security officers over the murder case of Archil Tatunashvili, a thirty-five-year-old Georgian citizen, who died while in detention by the Russian-backed authorities in Tskhinvali in February.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Davit Gurtsiev and Alik Taboev stand accused of illegal confinement and assistance in torture, which is punishable by imprisonment from nine to fifteen years under the country’s criminal code.
Prosecution detailed the case, saying the two officers knew that Archil Tatunashvili periodically crossed from Georgia proper to his native Akhalgori to sell fruit and vegetables. Gurtsiev and Taboev, the prosecution says, have learned that Tatunashvili served in the Georgian army in August 2008 and decided “to punish and torture him.”
On February 22, 2018, after Tatunashvili crossed into Akhalgori, Gurtsiev and Taboev, who serve at local prosecutor’s office and security service, respectively, detained him and took him to the Akhalgori security service building, where he was handcuffed and handed over to unidentified officers who transferred him to Tskhinvali, the region’s capital.
“The so called law enforcement officers tortured Archil Tatunashvili for participation in the 2008 August war, inflicting to him over 100 bodily injuries. Later, Archil Tatunashvili died,” the Prosecutor’s office said.
The Prosecutor’s Office said it would seek the Court’s sanction for using imprisonment as a preventive measure against the defendants.
Last week, the Prosecutor’s Office formally added the element of torture to the case of Tatunashvili’s death, citing examination by the National Forensics Bureau that listed over one hundred injuries to the body, including wounds, fractures, bruises, hemorrhages and incisions, as the reason behind its decision.