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Iuri Vazagashvili dies in explosion

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, January 21
The late Zurab Vazagashvili’s father Iuri Vazagashvili, who had tried to prove his son’s innocence for years and demanded the punishment of United National Movement (UNM) officials, died in an explosion at his son’s grave on January 20 in the village of Karapila, Kaspi.

According to locals, Vazagashvili attended a funeral of one of the village residents and then came to his son’s grave.

The locals stated that Vazagashvili always visited the grave when he was in the village and spent hours there alone.

Some of them claimed somebody would have known about his visiting patterns and planted a shell there.

Two versions are being discussed: suicide and murder. However, the family lawyers and members exclude suicide.

Human Rights’ defender Nana Kakabadze stated that based on her information, the shell was planted in a flower plot on the grave.

Mother of Buta Robakidze (Robakidze’s well-known murder case also took place under the UNM leadership and is still under investigation) Ia Metreveli is sure that Vazagashvili was killed.

“The killers of my and his sons are still free. I might be the next… He would not have committed suicide after so many years of non-stop fight,” Metreveli said.

Zurab Vazagashvili and Aleksandre Khubulov were killed by the police special purpose unit while driving in their car in central Tbilisi on May 2, 2006. Police claimed they responded with fire only after shots were fired from the car. But families of the two young men and their lawyers challenged the official version. However, the authorities closed the investigation into allegations that police used excessive force for lack of evidence in April, 2007.

The only person sitting in the BMW during the shootout who survived is Bondo (Buba) Puturidze, who later signed a plea agreement. The statement that he gave before court confirmed that the Special Forces officers fired back after they resisted.

On October 26, 2012 (since the new government took office), Bondo Puturidze gave a statement to GYLA’s lawyer Gagi Mosiashvili, rejecting his testimony before court and explaining that the testimony was obtained as a result of coercion. Pruidze noted in his statement that he and his friends had no intention of robbing and did not bear arms.