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Parliament will not reinvestigate controversial murders

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, December 2
On December 1 the Christian Democrats demanded the creation of a special committee to investigate some famous murder cases. Giorgi Akhvlediani, Chairman of the Christian Democrats, made this demand at a Bureau session, noting that a few days ago NGOs had applied to the party asking for these cases to be reviewed in the Parliament.

At the session the Christian Democrats asked whether an investigation commission could be established at the request of a faction or had to be demanded by 1/3 of MPs. Parliament Speaker Davit Bakradze said that it was necessary to make an official request first for discussion at the next Bureau session.

The Christian Democrats wanted an investigation of cases in which senior officials are said to have been involved which the public believe have not been investigated properly. These include the cases of Sandro Girgvliani, Amiran Robakidze and Zurab Vazagashvili. "The public have raised many questions concerning these cases and it is necessary to answer them. By the proper investigation of such cases Georgia will prove whether it is really a democratic country, Akhvlediani said.

On 28 January 2006 Sandro Girgvliani was tortured and subsequently murdered in a wood near Tbilisi. It was said at that time that this murder had been ordered and executed by high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The other two persons mentioned were also killed after the Rose Revolution.

The parents of Zurab Vazagashvili, Amiran Robakidze and Giorgi Gamtsemlidze, another person murdered in dubious circumstances, were due to attend the sitting yesterday but were not allowed to enter the Parliament building. Permits granted by MP Dimitri Lortkipanidze had been revoked. Dimitri Lortkipanidze protested against this at the session and Davit Bakradze promised he would deal with this problem. It eventually emerged that the parents had been put on a list of people who had insulted MPs a few months ago, and no person on that list is entitled to attend Parliament sittings.

The Christian Democrats also demanded an investigation of the Aprasidze case, which has caused serious debate in Parliament. On March 24, 2004 special operations units of the Georgian Interior Ministry entered the village of Etseri in Svaneti. The Ministry stated that three dangerous gangsters - Gocha, Omekhi and Evgeni Aprasidze - had been liquidated during this operation. A fourth member of the family, Shmagi Aprasidze, was wounded and taken to a hospital in Kutaisi.

During debates MP Dimitri Lortkipanidze stated that the Government had no right to annihilate this family in such a way. "Perhaps they were dangerous criminals, but the Government had no right to organise such a brutal operation against them. Evgeni Aprasidze was burnt to death in his home, several people were killed and two more are now in prison for 18 years. It was possible to arrest them without taking such measures, Lortkipanidze suggested. Petre Tsiskarishvili from the Government side said that the men killed were extremely dangerous gangsters and the police had done their job without breaking the law. "Just ask the people in Svaneti, whose families had been annihilated by the Aprasidzes, whether they were dangerous criminals. These people had been brutally killing innocent citizens and now the opposition demands that their case is reinvestigated. They are criminals and justly imprisoned, Tsiskarishvili stated.

Giorgi Targamadze from the Christian Democrats stated that each punishment should be legally sound. "Each case should be investigated properly and each operation should be conducted lawfully. Even if the Aprasidze were extremely dangerous criminals, the law enforcers' behaviour in this case cannot be considered right," Targamadze said. MP Akaki Minashvili stated that the corresponding structures have already investigated the cases of Girgvliani, Vazagashvili and others such as Aprasidze and there is no need for an additional investigation. "The Christian Democrats are just using these cases as a pre-election PR stunt. These cases have already been studied and investigated, stated Minashvili.

After the debates no special investigation committee was created. The National Movement Deputies did not support the Christian Democrats' initiative.