Two S. Ossetian Security Officers Sentenced to Life In Absentia over Tatunashvili Murder Case

The Mtskheta District Court sentenced two South Ossetian security officers, Davit Gurtsiev and Alik Tamboev to life imprisonment in absentia over the torture murder case of Archil Tatunashvili, a thirty-five-year-old Georgian, who died at the hands of the Russian-backed authorities in Tskhinvali in 2018.

The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia reported on December 16 that the Court fully accepted its motion and found the two South Ossetians guilty in illegal confinement and assistance in torture of Tatunashvili, native of Russian occupied Akhalgori Municipality in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.

On February 22, 2018, after Tatunashvili crossed into Akhalgori, Gurtsiev and Taboev, who 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 for torture to Tskhinvali, the region’s capital.

Tatunashvili was tortured for his participation in 2008 Russo-Georgian War over Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia in the Tskhinvali ‘prosecutor’s office’ building, where his body was inflicted over one hundred injuries of various types, noted the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office.

The two South Ossetian fugitives are since September 2018 wanted in 192 countries under the jurisdiction of Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization, following Georgia’s request.

The two men are also blacklisted in Georgia’s so-called Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili List, which includes 33 persons convicted or charged with grave crimes committed against the citizens of Georgia in the occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia since early 1990s.

Kremlin-backed Tskhinvali authorities accused Tatunashvili of “genocide against South Ossetians,” ties with the Georgian security agencies, and “preparing new acts of sabotage on the territory of the republic shortly before the election of the President of Russian Federation.”

A day after he was apprehended, 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, rendering it difficult to determine the exact cause of his death. His body was laid to rest at Mukhatgverdi military cemetery, near Tbilisi, with full military honors.

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