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Case of Zhvania's death to be opened this year

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Wednesday, September 17
The case regarding the death of former Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania will be opened by the end of the year.

The case evidence was sent abroad for examination. However, Zhvania’s family does not specify the country that was selected for lab-research. However, widow of Zurab Zhvania-Nino Zhvania states that the research was prolonged and that might hinder the court hearings on Zhvania’s case. She also informs that the information obtained through the research will specify the necessity of exhumation.

The first court session is scheduled for September 22 for expert Levan Chachua, who was detained in relation to Zhvania’s death case, as well as former chief of Zhvania’s bodyguard Koba Kharshiladze and another member of his security team Mikheil Dzadzamia.

Member of the United National Movement, Gia Baramidze, who was one of the first who saw Zhvania dead, states that he has never been summoned for questioning concerning the case.

“People are speculating that I may know something with regard to the case and that I am hiding information. However, no one has asked a single question to me under the new government,” Baramidze says.

Zhvania, one of the co-authors of the Rose Revolution and a member of the triumvirate, together with Mikheil Saakashvili and Nino Burjanadze, was found dead in a flat together with regional deputy governor Raul Yusupov on February 3, 2005.

The investigation of Zhvania’s case was reopened after the elections on October 1, 2012. The official cause of death released by the former government was carbon monoxide poisoning . Former government members, including Baramidze stress that the new government will find nothing new in terms of the case, as the conclusion made by the former leadership was confirmed by the FBI. However, Zurab Zhvania’s brother stresses that Zhvania was murdered and there are many interesting and significant details found through the new investigation.

At the former government’s request, personnel from the FBI conducted a test on February 9, 2005 to measure the air quality in the apartment under conditions that approximated as closely as possible to those at the time when the two men’s bodies were found.

“Nothing was observed during the testing or in the analysis of the test data to contradict the preliminary finding of the Georgian government that Zhvania and Yusupov died of carbon monoxide poisoning attendant to a faulty heater,” the FBI findings read.

The same report, however, also says that the atmosphere during the test period in the apartment never reached the 16% oxygen-level, where “impaired thinking” is caused. “The lowest recorded oxygen level was 18%,” according to the FBI report. Based on the standards of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the report says that “impaired respiration that may cause permanent heart damage” is triggered when the level of oxygen in the atmosphere is 12.5% and death is caused when the level is at 10%.