police in lapankuri 2012-08-29

Georgian police in Lapankuri, August 29, 2012. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Authorities in Georgia Wednesday conducted a somewhat belated autopsy of the bodies of some of the dead in a special operation along the border with Russia in August, 2012.

The shooting in a forested hillside in Lapankuri, near the border between Georgia and Russian Dagestan, claimed the lives of fourteen people. The bodies examined today belong to Aslan Margoshvili, Salam Zaurbekov and Bahaudin Baghakashvili, who were among eleven Chechens who died during the operation.

Three representatives of Georgian law enforcement also died during the shooting.

In October, 2012, a new political coalition surprisingly won the parliamentary election, and the new government has reopened the investigation into what happened at Lapankuri. The Interior Ministry is cooperating on this together with the Prosecutor’s Office.

The Ombudsman in March pointed out discrepancies in the official version of what happened and called for an independent investigation. Ombudsman Ucha Nanuashvili claimed that the previous government had brought in up to 120 rebel fighters from Europe, set them up with apartments in Tbilisi, given them guns and training at two military bases near the capital, and promising them safe passage into Chechnya upon completion of their training.

The investigation will examine the bodies of the other dead in the next few days. The relatives of the dead today told journalists that they do not have information about whether the previous government examined the bodies, but it was a request of the relatives to start a new investigation and as part of that, conduct an independent autopsy.