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Toxicology Report Says Tbilisi Detainee Was Drug-Free While in Custody

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, November 23
(TBILISI) – Tbilisi’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday released the results of a toxicology report for a detainee who died while in custody, showing that 32-year-od Paata Pavliashvili had no illegal substances in his system at the time of his death in late October.

According to the the Chief Prosecutor’s report, Pavliashvili was intoxicated when he was detained for public drunkenness and resisting arrest. His attempts to assault the officers on duty resulted in his inability to properly breath, which led to his death.

The Prosecutor’s Office said the medical examiner at Tbilisi’s Levan Samkharauli National Forensics Bureau found “no signs of excessive trauma” on Pavliashvili’s body, despite some witnesses claiming the police used excessive force during the arrest.

The country’s main opposition political party, the United National Movement (UNM), claimed the findings prove that the interior ministry was trying to frame Pavliashvili by trying to portray him as a drug addict.

“Shortly after the young man died, the police released a video in which some people assured that Pavliashvili was on mind altering drugs and was often drunk. The police tried to discredit the man,” said Khatuna Gogorishvili, a lawmaker from the UNM.

Georgia’s civil society weighed in on the case and is calling for the creation of an independent investigative body charged with prosecuting crimes committed by law enforcement officials.

In the weeks after Pavliashvili’s death, the Chief Prosecutor was forced to reveal that none of the police officers’ shoulder cameras were turned on when they detained Pavliashvili, a violation standard procedure for all law enforcement officials on active patrol duty.

Limited footage, however, was later released by the interior ministry which appeared to confirm that the officers’ cameras had not fully recorded the arrest.

“The officer (on duty) said he was recording his conversation; afterwards he turned his shoulder camera off and turned it back on only after Pavliashvili was detained and claimed that he felt ill,” the Prosecutor’s Office reported, adding, “Another patrol officer claimed his shoulder camera’s battery was empty at the time and he left it in the police car in order to charge it.

The arresting officers claimed shortly after the incident that the recorded footage only showed the brief period shortly after Pavliashvili was initially approached by the police.

Pavliashvili’s family and many eyewitnesses claim the police verbally and physically abused Pavliashvili during his October arrest, including beating him with truncheons.

According to the Interior Ministry’s own report, Pavliahsvili began taunting the police, after they were called by a neighbor to settle a dispute with a third unidentified party that lived nearby.

When the police arrived, Pavliashvili – a friend of the unnamed third party – suddenly appeared and began swearing at the two officers, after which the decided to detain him.

The Interior Ministry dismissed the possibility that the police used excessive force, saying they acted in according with the proper procedures to make an arrest.

Georgia’s Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili said the absence of footage of the incident raises serious doubts about the official findings on the case.