TBILISI, DFWatch–A few days before the local elections, the Interior Ministry in Georgia has gone public with details of yet one more crime conducted by Saakashvili’s government in which opponents were treated with a brutality reminiscent of Scorsese movies.
Spokesperson for the Interior Ministry on Tuesday said that a young man who was a ranger in the Forest Protection Department was kidnapped by a police official with structural support of the ministry.
The policeman took ranger Davit Tsindeliani to Batumi, put in a boat, sailed four kilometers out at sea, shot him, tied a load to him and threw him in the water. All this happened with the assistance of other policemen, and according to investigators it was ordered by officials in the Saakashvili government.
The Interior Ministry also accuses former regional head of the Constitutional Security Department of being involved. CSD used to carry out the functions of a counterintelligence service, but also had other functions during Saakashvili’s government and was operating with unlimited authority.
The former head of CSD, Data Akhalaia, is in exile avoiding prosecution. His father used to be prosecutor and unofficial head of the Samegrelo region. He is now a member of parliament. Data’s brother Bacho Akhalaia held various posts in the Saakashvili regime, including defense and interior minister. He is currently in detention for several crimes.
The Interior Ministry opened an investigation into the disappearance of Davit Tsindeliani, Forest Protection Department ranger. Investigators accuse Roman Shamatava, former head of CSD of Abkhazia, for kidnapping and murdering Tsindeliani. Shamatava is detained for the so-called Khurcha terrorist attack. A few days ago, the ministry accused him of the disappearance and murder of former Defense Ministry’s intelligence officer Paata Kardava, who has been missing for years.
The cases of ranger Dato Tsindeliani, Paata Kardava and Roin Shavadze, the latter an intelligence officer, are identical. All three of them disappeared a few days after the Russia-Georgia war in 2008. Their family and relatives suspected that they were murdered on the order of political officials, but during the previous government the cases were not investigated.
In a TV interview, Givi Targamadze, National Movement member and former chair of parliament’s defense and security committee, slipped to say that Roin Shavadze used to be a Russian spy.
This was the motive for the murder, according to the new investigation. All three, Shavadze, Tsindeliani and Kardava, were killed because of suspicion that they were spies, but the previous government didn’t go through standard procedures or through the courts.
Now, investigators claim that all three murders were carried out by former head of CSD of Abkhazia, Roman Shamatava. CSD of Abkhazia is subordinate to the central government of Georgia and acts only on Georgian-controlled area, mostly in Samegrelo, which borders with the breakaway region Abkhazia.
The Interior Ministry’s statement reads that in the middle of August, 2008, one CSD official received an order superiors to take Ranger Dato Tsindeliani, who was living in the village Chuberi, in Mestia, to Tbilisi for questioning, claiming that they had information that Tsindeliani was cooperating with Abkhaz separatists.
August 16, 2008 Tsindeliani was on a meeting I Kutaisi and he was driving from Svaneti to Kutaisi with his father by his car. CSD employees took him from the road and brought him to Batumi to transfer him to Roman Shamatava.
According to Interior Ministry, Shamatava with several employees brought him to a port in Batumi, where he accused Tsindeliani for cooperation with Abkhaz separatists, which Tsindeliani refused.
On orders of Shamatava, he was put in a boat, belonging to CSD of Adjara region. They tied his eyes and took him about four kilometers out to sea. Shamatava shot him in the head. Then he tied an anchor to his dead body and dropped him into the sea.
Tsindeliani’s family say it is unknown to them why he might have been killed by Interior Ministry officials. They rule out the possibility that Tsindeliani was cooperating with separatists, because he didn’t have access to any secret information, and even if he had, they think the government should have launched an investigation and put him on trial.
Tsindeliani’s father says it was personal revenge by Interior Ministry officials, because during the war, Tsindeliani confronted them as in his opinion, the people living in Kodori Gorge were abandoned without protection. But the statement by the Interior Ministry doesn’t mention this possible motive. The other theory is that Tsindeliani had a phone conversation with a friend, a girl from Russia, and during the conversation he mentioned that Georgia is hiding tanks in Borjomi valley so that the Russians can’t confiscate them. This was followed by bombing of Borjomi valley by Russian aviation and the forest was burned.
One theory is that Tsindeliani was accused for this, but there weren’t any formal charges against him.