A 15-year-old boy, who according to media reports, plunged to his death in an attempted suicide on December 12, succumbed to his injuries at Tbilisi’s Iashvili Children’s Hospital this evening.
Early on, the media implicated police misconduct in the affair, alleging – based on the statement by victim’s mother – that the boy was psychologically pressured during the Police interrogation.
According to reports, the the boy was interrogated in the First Police Unit of Tbilisi’s Didube-Chughureti district on December 10-11, as the Police was investigating appearance of offensive spray-painted graffiti in the corridors and the courtyard of one of Tbilisi’s private secondary schools the night before. The victim, according to the school officials, studied there earlier, but was moved to a public school at parent’s request a while ago.
According to mother’s reports, who attended the interrogation of a minor, police investigators have pressured her son to confess and she was too shocked to intervene. She also reported, according to the media, that at one point the investigator has removed her son from the room, and he returned to the room crying.
The Ministry of Interior denied allegations of misconduct in a statement of December 15, noting that the interrogation procedures for minors were followed, and that he was interrogated in presence of his mother on December 10, as well as the next day, December 11. The statement said the boy left the police building in 40 minutes on December 11. The Deputy Interior Minister Nino Tsatsiashvili confirmed while briefing the media that the deputy chief of Police station spoke with the victim separately, before the start of formal interrogation for 3-4 minutes, “to resolve the altercation that emerged between him and his mother”.
As the media outcry with the case grew, on December 16, the Police released a statement, noting that deputy head of the implicated Police unit, as well as the investigator requested suspension of their duties pending investigation.
Late on December 17, the State Inspector’s Office – a newly established body mandated to investigate crimes committed by police and public officials – that took over the case on December 13, issued a statement that they detained the police investigator on suspicions of forcing a confession.
Reactions after the teen’s death
Following the reports of the boy’s death, public officials voiced their condolences to the family.
“We have to change much and do much to prevent such tragedies,” Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili wrote on her Facebook page.
Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria offered condolences to the family and relatives on the teen. “This case is the tragedy for the whole society, as we once again failed to defend this child’s life,” Ombudsperson noted.
The Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport issued a statement later today, noting they are “deeply shaken” by the death of the teenager.
Protest movement “shame”, that has been at the forefront of protests against the police violence on June 20-21, as well as recent activist mobilization for the proportional vote gathered in front of hospital, offering condolences to the teen’s family.
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