The State Security Service, Georgia’s domestic intelligence service, has interrogated Malkhaz Machalikashvili, father of the terror-related case suspect – Temirlan Machalikashvili – who was shot dead during the detention operation on December 26 last year.
Malkhaz Machalikashvili, who has been claiming his son’s innocence and demanding justice over his death, was summoned to the State Security Service three times in the last seven days.
Machalikashvili was first summoned on August 14. According to his lawyers, Machalikashvili was then questioned as a witness over the ongoing investigation into his suicide bombing remarks on May 31, 2018.
Machalikashvili was also interrogated on August 16 and August 21. This time, the security operatives inquired into his ties with individuals convicted on charges of plotting terrorist acts in Georgia, as well as with those sentenced for assisting the terror group.
Machalikashvili’s lawyers deny their defendant’s guilt in both cases, saying the Security Service’s interrogations aim at forming a negative public image of Machalikashvili. They also say it is an attempt to associate Machalikashvili to terror convicts and alter his plans for “seeking truth abroad,” apparently referring to the disrupted Strasbourg visit of Machalikashvili and Zaza Saralidze, father of a teenager murdered last December.
Lawyer Mariam Kublashvili stressed the decision to summon him nine months after the anti-terrorist operation and nearly two months after his May 31 remarks was a confirmation of that. “I had an impression that the interrogation process is formal, and something more important is happening behind it,” she noted, adding that it could also be related to the recent resignation of Ioseb Gogashvili, deputy head of the State Security Service.
“Gogashvili was the one who led the terror attack,” Malkhaz Machalikashvili told reporters after the interrogation, referring to the detention operation in Pankisi gorge that claimed the life of Temirlan Machalikashvili. He also said Gogashvili’s resignation “does not mean anything,” and that he “should be punished for his terrible crime.”
Machalikashvili’s another lawyer, Keti Chutlashvili added that the State Security Service officers could not give a “legally clear” explanation why Machalikashvili was summoned as the people accused of plotting terrorist acts in Georgia had already been sentenced.
Machalikashvili has not been formally charged on the two cases, according to his lawyers. On August 29, he will have to answer the investigators’ questions again.