TBILISI, DFWatch–The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday found Georgia in violation of ARticle 2 – the right to life – in the high-profile case of torture and death of Georgian sergeant, an Iraq War veteran.

In its judgment, the ECHR unanimously held that “there has been a violation of Article 2 of the Convention in both its procedural and substantive aspects”. The applicant in the case was Tsitsino Shavadze, the widow of Sergeant Roin Shavadze.

The case concerns Senior Sergeant Roin Shavadze, who was tortured and then shot to death by Georgian security forces on August 16, 2008; two days after he returned from the Russia-Georgia war. 

An investigation was launched for deliberate homicide and illegal possession of drugs. The government reported that Shavadze tried to escape and law enforcers had to shot him, while several senior members on United National Movement, then the ruling party, acknowledged that Shavadze was a traitor, a Russian spy, and indirectly justify the brutal murder.

Roin Shavadze was an intelligence officer serving in the 23rd light infantry battalion in Senaki from December 1, 2005, to June 1, 2006, and served in the mission in Iraq. Earlier, he was trained by American trainers along with other Georgian soldiers. He won awards and certificates, both from Georgia and the US.

After coming to power in 2012, the new Georgian Dream  government started criminal probes into this and similar crimes, but the Shavadze case has not yet been concluded.

According to the ECHR, the applicant’s husband died at the hands of Interior Ministry staff on August 16, 2008, and an investigation was not initiated by the Prosecutor’s Office, as required by law. Although it was later handed over to the prosecution, the investigation was based on evidence obtained by the Interior Ministry.

The Court therefore held that the initial and most decisive investigative action taken by the investigators on this information clearly violated the requirements of Article 2 of the Convention. As in the cases of Vazagashvili and Shanava v. Georgia and Enukidze and Girgvliani v. Georgia, the ECHR found that such procedural violations significantly hinder effective investigation. Accordingly, the Court held that the investigation was not independent and impartial, and also focused on its procrastination. Hence, the ECHT has found a violation of Article 2 of the Convention.