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Zaza Saralidze, July 3, 2018. Photo; Screengrab from TV Pirveli video

Parliament Investigative Commission Addresses Interior Ministry, Prosecutor’s Office

The Parliamentary Commission leading the probe into investigation of the Khorava street teen murder, requested that the Prosecutor’s Office launches the criminal persecution against Mikheil Kalandia, one of the main case witnesses, for his participation in the murder of Davit Saralidze in the incident last December.

According to the Commission, the recommendation is based on the case materials as well as the testimonies heard from Kakhaber Siradze, Head of First Unit of the Detectives Division of the Tbilisi Police Department, and Zviad Pkhakadze, Head of the Police Investigation Supervision Division, of the Prosecutor’s Office.

The commission also requested the Interior Ministry to immediately launch investigation against a person only identified by initials G.M. in the case materials, for committing bodily injury with “a cold weapon” in connection with the teen murder case.

Deputy Interior Minister Natia Mezvrishvili downplayed the recommendations as “pro-forma.” She said the additional investigation into the case is already underway, two more persons were already arrested, and that “other people might also be detained.”

Zaza Saralidze, father of murdered Davit Saralidze, whose determination to seek the truth has galvanized public interest towards the case, echoed the demands of the Parliamentary commission calling for detaining Kalandia. He claims the case materials contain “sufficient evidence to charge” him. TV cameras showed him alone and in despair, having spent the night at the Interior Ministry building. He has reportedly met the ministry officials today, and stated they promised “radical steps” by the end of the week.

Background

The protests in Tbilisi started mid-day on May 31, following the controversial court ruling over the teen murder case last December, which acquitted both suspects on group murder charges of Davit Saralidze, effectively defying the prosecution’s version of the incident and failing to identify the perpetrator in Saralidze’s murder case.

Several thousand protesters including students, public figures and opposition politicians, gathered in front of the Prosecutor’s Office, demanding Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze’s resignation.

Shotadze resigned later on May 31, but the protests continued and moved in front of the old Parliament building in Tbilisi, where their demands radicalized and included the resignation of Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s government.

On June 11, Zaza Saralidze decided to temporarily suspend the solidarity rallies, while two days later Kvirikashvili announced his resignation.

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