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Two Years on from Otkhozoria’s Brutal Murder, the Killer Walks Free

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, May 21
On May 19 two years have passed since the brutal murder of a 30-year-old Georgian citizen Giga Otkhozori, near the occupation line between Georgia and its occupied Abkhazia region in the country’s west.

Otkhozoria was shot six times by a Russia-controlled border guard Rashid Kanjiogli on the Tbilisi-administered territory. The last one was a control shot in the head.

The murder has triggered an international outcry, with the Georgian government still raising the issue at all International Prevention and Response Mechanisms Meetings (IPRM) held in Georgia with the representatives of the Russia-controlled Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, as well as at international events.

It is known that the killer, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison in absentia in Georgia, is walking free.

The offender was detained by the occupant leadership shortly after the murder and was released soon, “due to the lack of evidence.”

Georgia layed full responsibility on Russia for the murder. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry “advised” Georgia to settle the problem with the “government of Tskhinvali republic.” The most recent mention of the case was on May 18, when during the IPRM meeting Georgia “strongly demanded Kanjiogli’s punishment.”

“However, the answer of the breakaway region was absolutely unclear,” a representative of Georgia’s State Security Service Irakli Antadze told the media.

Mother of Otkozoria stated on Saturday that “she would be ungrateful to say that the government did nothing to punish the offender.”

However, she added that the Georgian leadership should have taken relevant steps and punish the killer shortly after the murder took place.

Members of the Georgian Dream government arrived at the grave of Otkhozoria on the day, promising to do their utmost to hold the killer accountable for his crime.

Zugdidi City Court sentenced Kanjiogli to 12-year imprisonment on December 26, 2016.

Otkhozoria was trying to transport food into the breakaway region for a funeral ceremony for his late aunt on May 19, 2016.

Locals said the border guards demanded Otkhozoria pay a fine in exchange for transporting the goods, which caused a dispute. They said Otkhozoria ran away from the border guards but was shot as he retreated.

Otkhozoria was on Georgian-controlled territory at around 2:30 p.m when he was gunned down.

Witnesses say that Kanjioghli then hid in occupied Abkhazia after shooting Otkhozoria.

Otkhozoria left behind his wife with two children.