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SSG: Malkhaz Machalikashvili Plotted Terrorist Act

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The State Security Service of Georgia (SSG) says Malkhaz Machalikashvili, father of a terror-related case suspect – Temirlan Machalikashvili – who was shot dead during a detention operation in December 2017, plotted a terrorist act targeting Ioseb Gogashvili, SSG’s former deputy head.

In a statement released on May 7, the State Security Service said Malkhaz Machalikashvili was planning to commit a terrorist act in village Zemo Machkhaani of Dedoplistskaro Municipality in the eastern Georgian region of Kakheti, at the grave of Ioseb Gogashvili’s father.

Gogashvili was the deputy head of the State Security Service during the December 2017 operation, when several residents of Georgia’s Muslim-majority Pankisi gorge were apprehended on charges of assisting the group of terror suspects, who allegedly plotted attacks on diplomatic missions in Georgia.

Machalikashvili was shot in the head during his detention. According to the SSG, he attempted to resist the security forces and tried to detonate a hand grenade, to which the SSG operatives responded with “proportional force.” Machalikashvili’s family denies this and claims he was asleep when officers entered his room and opened fire.

The Security Service said, citing evidence obtained by the investigation, that on March 23, 2019, Machalikashvili instructed his nephew, Moris Machalikashvili to collect information about Gogashvili, including on his home addresses and routes of movement.

“Moris Machalikashvili was also tasked to travel to Zemo Machkhaani and locate the grave of Gogashvili’s father. Malkhaz Machalikashvili planned further actions based on the obtained information,” the statement reads.

“The terrorist act was being planned in Zemo Machkhaani, at the grave of Ioseb Gogashvili’s father, when Gogashvili and persons accompanying him would visit the place, resulting in their and other citizens’ deaths,” it added.

The SSG also released a Chechen language audio recording, which allegedly features the reported conversation. The Georgian-language translation accompanying the audio tape suggests that a man identified by the SSG as Malkhaz Machalikashvili asks his collocutor to concentrate on Gogashvili, and gives him respective orders.

The Security Service said the audio was filmed in the course of the investigation, launched in June 2018, following Machalikashvili’s remarks that he and his associates from the Pankisi gorge had sworn to go to the State Security Service building and detonate themselves there (Machalikashvili recanted the statement later).

Moris Machalikashvili was interrogated by the State Security Service today, but the man was not arrested. Malkhaz Machalikashvili remains free as well.

Malkhaz Machalikashvili denied the accusations in his brief press remarks today, saying he does not know who Gogashvili’s father was and where he was buried. “No such conversation has taken place. It is a fabrication, a doctored recording,” he noted.

The SSG announcement came a day after the Prosecutor’s Office released a statement over the death of Temirlan Machalikashvili, saying “all necessary investigative measures are still being carried out into the case,” and that the process is “at its concluding stage and the final decision will be made within the next two months.”

Malkhaz Machalikashvili has been demanding justice over his son’s death in a sit-in protest in front of the Parliament building in Tbilisi. He has been calling for the arrest of the security officer who shot his son, as well as the Head of the State Security Service, Vakhtang Gomelauri, and his former deputy, Ioseb Gogashvili, who he claims led the operation.

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

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