TBILISI, DFWatch–The Prosecutor General’s Office in Georgia has detained a police officer who is suspected of murdering human rights activist Yuri Vazagashvili three weeks ago.
Yuri Vazagashvili had been campaigning for justice for his son Zurab, who was killed during special operation in 2006 during the Saakashvili regime.
The tragedy took place as he was visiting the village Karapila 50km west of the capital to take part in the funeral of a friend. When he stopped by his son’s grave in the same village, he was killed by an explosion while on top of the grave.
The Prosecutor’s Office announced that there has been seized a part of the hand grenade, the so called “fuze handle”. An examination carried out on the handle revealed traces of human DNA, which helped to identify the suspect, and on Sunday he was detained.
According to the investigation, the detained policeman was in Karapila on January 19-20. The Prosecutor’s Office claims to have detained a murderer as a statement reads that “it can be incontrovertibly stated” that Yuri Vazagashvili was murdered by this man by means of the hand grenade installed on the grave by him.
“The investigation of the case continues with the qualification of premeditated murder committed under aggravating circumstances under Article 109 §1 (c) of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which entails the deprivation of liberty from 11 to 14 years as a penalty,” the statement reads.
The mother of the suspect, who is from the village Sakorintlo, 2-3 kilometers from Karapila, says her son was in Sakorintlo on January 18 and 19 and left on the 19th. She never saw him after that.
During a search of the house, the police found three hand grenades, she said.
“It seemed that they were brought here long time ago, as the package that they were put in was eaten by rats,” she told journalists.
She said his son worked at the police for years and used to keep various weapons at home. According to the parents, it is not unusual to keep weapon at home in Sakorintlo, as it borders with South Ossetia.
Irakli Shotadze, Deputy Chief Prosecutor said at a briefing that the detainee pleads not guilty. He also said on Sunday evening in an interview on Imedi TV that there are several witnesses who claim to have seen the policeman walking away from the cemetery in Karapila.
The detained policeman’s lawyer Soso Joglidze says his client is innocent and there is evidence that proves this. He said there are witnesses who will prove that he was not guilty.