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Family Says Investigation into Ia Kerzaia’s Death Not Effective

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The family of Ia Kerzaia, the late principal of Public School N6 in Zugdidi, who was reportedly pressured to join the Presidential campaign of Salome Zurabishvili, claims investigation into her death is ineffective.

The announcement was made by Bachana Shengelia, the son of Ia Kerzaia, after his meeting with the investigators on April 18. Shengelia was invited at the Chief Prosecutor’s Office to get acquainted with the case materials.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Shengelia said “all the doubts that we have had about the investigation being led the wrong way and being ineffective, have been confirmed entirely.”

“We saw that the main case participant – Education Minister Mikheil Batiashvili – has not been questioned; instead, they have interviewed those who had no information on the crime, including school cleaners,” he added.

He said the investigators have also not questioned heads of the Audit Department and the Inspection Service of the Education Ministry, as well as the director of the Educational Center in Zugdidi. He also stressed the main witnesses – inspectors, who carried out the inspection shortly before Kerzaia’s death, were interviewed only in mid-April.

Earlier today, Shengelia and his lawyer, Levan Makharashvili convened a press briefing as well. Shengelia stressed there are “unprecedented facts” proving that the authorities are obstructing the investigation.

Shengelia noted that the National Forensics Bureau rejected his request for forensic examination twice, citing lack of time on the first occasion, and failure by the Ministry of Healthcare to assign an expert on the second.

“Four months have passed and none of the government officials suspected of committing offenses in the case have been fired or suspended; the main participant – Mikheil Batiashvili – has maintained his post as well,” he added.

“All of these factors in combination, allows us to conclude that the Ministry of Healthcare, the National Forensics Bureau, government officials and the Chief Prosecutor’s Office are acting in concert to fabricate the case and hinder the investigation,” Shengelia noted.

Two inspectors from the Ministry of Education carried out an inspection in the Public School N6 in Zugdidi in November 2018, between the first and the second rounds of Presidential elections.

Kerzaia’s family claims the inspection was approved after the school principal refused to cooperate with the authorities and join the campaign of the ruling party-endorsed candidate, Salome Zurabishvili.

The inspectors released their conclusion two weeks later, recommending the school’s governing board to dismiss the principal. Kerzaia was hospitalized with a stroke on December 2, and died couple of days later. The family claims her health condition worsened as a result of pressure.

ISFED, a Tbilisi-based election watchdog, said the circumstances surrounding the death of Ia Kerzaia raise doubts that the inspection “was selective and discriminatory on political grounds.”

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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