Two South Ossetian security officers charged in absentia 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, are now wanted in 192 countries under the jurisdiction of Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization.
Interpol’s General Secretariat made the decision on September 13, based on the case materials provided by the Georgian Interior Ministry, which requested issuing of the so called ‘red notice’ against Davit Gurtsiev and Alik Taboev on July 6.
In Georgia, 33-year-old Gurtsiev and 40-year-old 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.
State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili hailed the development, stressing that the country’s authorities will use all available legal measures to ensure that justice is served and perpetrators are punished. “It means that they will be detained if they travel outside Georgia,” the Minister underscored.
On February 22, 2018, after Archil Tatunashvili, native of Akhalgori Municipality in Tskhinvali Region, crossed into Akhalgori, Gurtsiev and Taboev, who reportedly 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.
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. According to the independent examination carried out in Tbilisi in August, the underlying cause of Tatunashvili’s death was torture.