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New Details Emerge in Famous Journalist’s Murder Case

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, February 20
Georgia’s local and the most opposition-minded Rustavi 2 TV has released new details about the murder case of their TV anchor, Giorgi Sanaia, who was killed 17 years ago.

Rustavi 2 reports they were contacted by prisoner Constantine Tsikhistavi from the prison, who told the broadcaster that the killing of a famous journalist was planned in the Georgian government and former law enforcer, Grigol Khurtsilava, who was convicted for the murder of Sanaia, did not kill the TV anchor in summer 2001.

The prisoner also said that the murder was committed by Georgia’s number one terrorist from Pankisi Gorge, Shota Chichiashvili, his former boss, adding he was instructed by former general Tamaz Tamazashvili and ex- Deputy Interior Minister, Vladimer Bakuradze to kill the journalist.

Tsikhistavi says the motive of Sanaia’s murder was his pro-western ideology, adding then government was trying to silence everyone, who were openly supporting pro-western ideas, including the killed journalist.

“The government was playing a double game: They were secretly assisting us, criminal groups and also were claiming to form anti-terrorist groups,” the prisoner stated.

Tsikhistavi, who is in prison for various criminal charges, says his group, under the leadership of Shota Chichiashvili, took a video before Sanaia’s murder, adding it was a false motive, made up in advance, to make everyone believe that Sanaia was killed because he obtained a secret material of kidnapping a person.

The prisoner assures Grigol Khurtsilava took the murder on his responsibility because he was promised to be released after some period in exchange for a large sum of money.

“He [Khurtsilava] had many debts and this is why he agreed to admit he killed Sanaia,” Tsikhistavi added.

Shota Chichiashvili, who used to be the boss of the organized criminal and terrorist group in Georgia, told Rustavi 2 a few months ago that Tsikhishvili is his enemy, who once was his group member and a friend.

“I helped him and accepted as a friend, but he turned into my enemy and is trying to blame me in many things,” Chichiashvili stated.

A brother of the murdered journalist, Vakho Sanaia, who also works at Rustavi 2, stated that after Tsikhistavi’s statements, the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) has to re-investigate his brother’s murder case.

“From the beginning I knew it was a politically-motivated murder, and this case was not properly investigated. After the new circumstances, the POG has to summon and question all the people, named by Tsikhistavi,” he stressed.

Giorgi Sanaia, popular TV anchor was shot dead in his apartment in Tbilisi on July 26, 2001.

The police arrested Grigol Khurtsilava in 2001 for murder charges. The court sentenced Khurtsilava to 13 years imprisonment.

During the trial, Khurtsilava plead guilty and said that sexual abuse from Giorgi Sanaia was the reason of the murder. The family of the journalist categorically disagreed with the murder motive.

Khurtsilava was released from prison under the general amnesty four years ago. Neither he nor former General Tamaz Tamazashvili and ex- Deputy Interior Minister, Vladimer Bakuradze have made any comments over the recent developments yet.