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Prosecutor’s initial report on Kimeridze released

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, March 7
After opposition politicians cast doubt on the government’s conclusion that the death of Solomon Kimeridze at a Khashuri police station was accidental, the local prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into the case, publishing its first materials on Tuesday.

The statement was released so as to “inform the public about questioning eyewitnesses and other investigative activities, as the case is one of special importance.”

According to testimony from Kimeridze’s family, he was taken from his house by police for questioning, regarding the theft of a neighbour’s kettle, at approximately 11:30am. Kimeridze did not resist or protest.

The neighbour, Tamaz Gamgonidze, arrived at the police station at about 4:25pm, and was questioned for approximately 25 minutes before being released.

Giorgi Kharshiladze, the Khashuri police chief, claims he spoke with Kimeridze for approximately 10 minutes before releasing him from his office. Inspector-investigator Malkhaz Tsikelashvili said that he and Kimeridze were on the third floor of the building, in the Kharshiladze’s office, when they decided to move to the second floor. Tsikelashvili was ahead of Kimeridze on the staircase, when he heard a sound on the hand-rail. He turned round and saw Kimeridze falling, attempted to catch him, but failed. Kimeridze fell to the first floor at approximate 5:30pm. Other police officers in the station at the time corroborate this account of the events.

A court-ordered medical examination found no signs of torture or beating on the body. The examiner concluded that the cause of death was injuries sustained from a fall.

In the wake of Kimeridze’s death, Kharchiladze has been removed from his post.

“The decision [to remove Kharchiladze] was taken due to the death of Solomon Kimeridze in the police department, and that safety norms were not ensured in the office,” read a government statement.

Minister of Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili released a statement, maintaining that the death was an accident, but calling for better safety procedures in police stations.

The opposition has loudly condemned Kimeridze’s death as intentional and political. The victim had been known to criticize the current Georgian leadership, and express his support for the opposition, leading some to refer to him as a “victim of the regime”.

A special statement was also made by Public Defender Giorgi Tughushi, who demanded further investigation of the cause and the publication of all details.