TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office on Saturday published more material regarding the death of a witness who testified against a recently convicted Saakashvili ally.
Shalva Tatukhashvili died March 23 in his home, after testifying against Data Akhalaia, the former head of Georgia’s counterintelligence, ‘Kudi’.
The witness’ family claims he was tortured during interrogation, but prosecutors have argued that Saakashvili’s party, the National Movement, which has seized on the case, is engaging in political spin.
The new evidence includes the autopsy report, phone call data and photos provided by the National Forensic Bureau.
According to the autopsy report, Tatukhashvili died from an acute respiratory insufficiency developed by alcohol intoxication combined with the effects of psychotropic substances belonging to the benzodiazepine group.
The time of death was March 23, 2014, at about 23:00. The report says that Tatukhashvili’s blood contained 0.5 % ethyl alcohol and the amount of ethyl alcohol in the urine was as high as 0.563 %. (The statement by the Prosecutor’s Office incorrectly states the blood alcohol content as 5 %.)
“The injuries on the body of Sh. Tatukhashvili and their lapse of time are determined, specifically, the excoriation on the areas of the left forearm – the lapse of time is 1-2 days prior to death.”
“Excoriation on the areas of the first finger of the right palm – the lapse of time is 6-7 days prior to death; Excoriation on the area of waist – the lapse of time is 1-2 days prior to death.”
“Hemorrhage on the area of waist – the lapse of time is shortly prior to death – 23 March Excoriation on the knee joint of both legs, the lapse of time is 1-2 days prior to death.”
“Excoriation on the area of ankle, the lapse of time is 1-2 days prior to death.”
The statement by the Prosecutor’s Office says the autopsy determined that all injuries observed on the body are of a mild category and have no connection to the death.
According to the records of phone calls, Tatukhashvili called investigator Dznelashvili several times from March 18. The Prosecutor’s Office says this excludes the family’s assumption that investigator Dznelashvili tortured him.
The investigator said in a testimony that in the first call Tatukashvili told him he was at home. During the second call, he arranged a meeting with Dznelashvili.
March 21, Tatukashvili contacted the police in Teleti, a small town close to the capital, to say that he had lost his document for proving he is a veteran. After this, the family discovered his dead body at his house in Teleti.
“Therefore, in the light of the foregoing, since 18 March until the time of his death, that is when the injuries were inflicted, the person was at his residence in Teleti,’ the statement reads.
April 4, the same day as the Prosecutor’s Office published the results of the autopsy, the lawyer Irakli Zakareishvili, who strangely claims to represent Tatukhashvili, although he is working for Data Akhalaia, the former counterintelligence chief who Tatukhashvili’s testimony helped convict, published the results of an alternative autopsy report, which doesn’t indicate the reason of death but only deals with the visible injuries on the body.
The alternative autopsy says the injuries on the body were inflicted while he was alive and no less than 5-7 days before death. The injuries were caused by multiple actions of hard and blunt objects. Such objects could be a man’s fist, baton or anything else.
Prosecutor’s Office questions the results of the independent expertise, as it was only conducted on basis of photographic material, but Alexandre Gejadze, the expert who conducted it, said in an interview with Rustavi 2 that his conclusions would be more categorical if he examined the body instead of the photos. He said he assumes that the injures could have been inflicted by different objects, by hitting with a fist or a foot, but they could also be a result of falling to the ground.
Tatukashvili’s family said they think he was forced to take medicine which caused his death after several days.
The case was seized on by spokespersons for the National Movement party, who used it to further claim that the justice system is politicized – a concern they never took seriously when they were in power.
The lawyer representing Data Akhalaia, who Tatukhashvili testified against, now appears in a role as spokesman for the dead witness’ family, who believe their son was tortured, furthering his main client’s interests and arguing for the torture theory, which invalidates the incriminating testimony.
A few days ago, the Prosecutor’s Office published details about the Tatukhashvili case, including videos taken by their surveillance cameras and in the streets that appeared to exclude the possibility that he was tortured, based on the ease with which he was walking when leaving the office and his friendly demeanor towards his would-be torturers.
Read the full statement of the Prosecutor’s Office in English here: http://pog.gov.ge/eng/news?info_id=465.
The original autopsy report can be downloaded (Georgian) here: http://pog.gov.ge/res/docs/daskvna1.pdf