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Wounded Suspect Dies after Two Weeks in Coma

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, January 11
(TBILISI)--Temirlan Machalikashvili, a 19-year-old from Georgia’s Muslim populated Pankisi Gorge, who had been accused of alleged links with terrorists, died at the hospital in Tbilisi early on January 10.

Machalikashvili was supposed to be taken for the treatment to Turkey in the coming days, as he suffered from a severe head injury from the December 26 anti-terrorist raid in Pankisi.

His family claims a special unit serviceman mistakenly shot Machalikashvili. The family members say, he was sending a message when the law enforcers entered the house and one of them thought a 19-year-old was holding a hand grenade. The family maintains, the deceased was holding a cellphone instead.

Machalikashvili’s family members have vowed they will use all levers to prove their son had no links with neither the Islamic State terrorist Ahmed Chatayev nor with any such groups.

Georgia’s Public Defender Nino Lomjaria promised she will do her best to clarify the details of the case.

“Questions arise whether the law enforcers had exceeded their powers or not during the raid, as well as if the young man was timely transported for treatment,” Lomjaria said.

The Elders of the Pankisi Gorge said they will gather to discuss the raid and the death, and will make a statement afterwards.

Four people were detained and Machalikashvili was shot in Pankisi for alleged links with Chatayev on December 26.

The Pankisi raid was preceded with the large-scale counterterrorism operation in the outskirts of Tbilisi on November 21-22, which saw Chatayev and his two alleged supporters killed and one suspect detained.

Georgia’s State Security Service claims they had evidence four detainees and Machalikashvili supported Chatayev’s group to come to Georgia.

The body says terrorists planned attacks on Georgian and Turkish diplomats.

The State Security Service had released a video, featuring Machalikashvili with two killed suspects of Chatayev’s group. However, the Machalikashvili family says the video was taken two years ago, when the two killed suspects freely moved in Tbilisi and Pankisi with changed names.