TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia’s Interior Ministry has fired a local police chief after a controversial death of a suspect under interrogation.

The ministry says in a statement dated March 6 that the head of Khashuri police station, where a detainee died under suspicious circumstances February 27, was fired because “the police building hadn’t provided security norms.”

The death of Solomon Kimeridze has caused a strong reaction among Georgian society and groups are demanding an independent investigation into the case, and that those responsible are punished.

Kimeridze died after being called in to Khashuri police station for interrogation in a robbery case.

According to the official version, he died of injuries suffered as a result of falling down the stairs. But some of what is known about the case gives grounds for the theory that he died as a result of torture.

Rights groups, the public defender and opposition forces demand that the case is appropriately investigated, beginning with an independent autopsy.

Shota Utiashvili, head of the Interior Ministry’s analytical department, told DF Watch that the investigation was properly conducted and that an independent autopsy would only be conducted if the family of the deceased asked for it.

Locals from the village where Kimeridze died say that his family members are scared, because he was considered as one of the active oppositional people in the village and they say this was the reason for his arrest, and that the accusation about robbery was just made up.

A statement released March 6 by the Chief Prosecutor’s office says that ‘there are no traces of torture or beating on the body of the deceased, and the death was caused by injuries resulting from falling from a height.’

Kimeridze did not have a formal status while at the police station, but was called in for questioning in connection with a robbery. Shota Utiashvili expanded on the case on the TV station First Channel later on March 6, saying that Kimeridze was called in to the police to find out about the robbery of some tens of lari worth of scrap, because there was a suspicion that he had stolen those things.

“We speak about a trivial case, the loss of which is several tens of laris and what kind of motivation would the police have had to push Kimeridze off the stairs, or torture him?” he asked.