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Prosecutor’s Office Terminates Investigation into Machalikashvili Case

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The Georgian Prosecutor’s Office has announced that it terminated the case related to Temirlan Machalikashvili, who was shot dead during an anti-terror operation in Georgia’s north-eastern Pankisi gorge by special police forces in December 2017.

The Prosecutor’s Office said at a news briefing on January 28 that a riot police officer who fired a shot at Machalikashvili was forced to repel an attack and that a threat was real. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Machalikashvili did not obey a riot police officer’s order to show his hands and tried to detonate a hand-grenade, prompting the police officer to fire a shot.

It also explained that not a single riot police officer or any senior official had committed an unlawful action during the special operation.

18-year-old Temirlan Machalikashvili was shot in the head in the process of his detention in December 2017. Machalikashvili died of his injuries in January 2018 in a Tbilisi hospital. According to the State Security Service of Georgia (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 Prosecutor’s Office said that 124 persons were interviewed as part of investigation into Machalikashvili case; moreover, over tens of forensic examinations were carried out and the Machalikashvili family members as well as all 32 riot police officers participating in the special operation were interviewed.

It also said that the hand grenade was later seized from Machalikashvili’s bedroom in the presence of his father, Malkhaz Machalikashvili.

Malkhaz Machalikashvili’s response

In response to the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office, Malkhaz Machalikashvili, who had been rallying for months demanding impartial investigation, said that the entire process “was pro forma.”

No [real] investigation has been launched and this case needed no investigation. They had to justify their crime and I had to struggle because they committed a crime. But they are telling a lie, misleading the society. I expected it, I knew that it would happen so and had no feeling that they would say anything new. Everything is absurd,” Malkhaz Machalikashvili said in the interview with TV Pirveli.

Press conference at EMC

The Human Rights and Monitoring Center (EMC), a local watchdog protecting the rights of the family of Temirlan Machalikashvili, convened a press conference on January 28. Malkhaz Machalikashvili also attended it.

EMC slammed the process of investigation as “ineffective,” saying that the Machalikashvili family and its defense lawyers had lost trust towards the investigation.

We think that this decision is a continuation of government’s recent policy, which does not recognize and openly neglects social and political discontent, existing inside or outside the country and tries to maintain power through demonstrating force and making rough decisions,” EMC said.

The local watchdog plans to challenge the decision and submit its assessment about termination of the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

On June 5, 2019, Human Rights and Monitoring Center (EMC) filed a lawsuit to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on behalf of the family of Temirlan Machalikashvili.

The case was filed under three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights: Right to life (article 2); prohibition of torture (article 3); right to an effective remedy (article 13).

Malkhaz Machalikashvili also demanded setting up an interim investigative commission in the Parliament, but his attempts proved unsuccessful.

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

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