TBILISI, DFWatch–The body of a former Georgian prime minister may be exhumed in order to determine the cause of death.
Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania, one of the architects of the rose revolution, died in 2005, officially of gas poisoning due to a faulty heater.
But new doubt was cast on the official story by photos of Zhvania’s dead body published in March, which appeared to show that he had injuries at the time of death.
The ongoing trial last week focused on the pathologist who performed the post-mortem examination, and today it was the turn for two of Zhvania’s former bodyguards to take the stand.
During a break in the court hearing on Tuesday, prosecutor Revaz Nadoi said that his team may demand to have the bodies of Zhvania and his friend Raul Usupov who died with him, exhumed.
The decision about a possible exhumation will depend on the results of analysis of tissue samples taken in 2005.
Nadoi said the Prosecutor’s Office is holding consultations with the families of the dead about a potential exhumation.
The trial goes before Tbilisi City Court and now is focused on the head of Zhvania’s personal security detail, Koba Kharshiladze, and the head of shift of the guards at the moment of the PM’s death, from evening February 2 to morning of February 3, Mikheil Dzadzamia. Both are accused of the ‘criminal negligence’.
Last week, Levan Chachua, the pathologist who examined Zhvania’s body was on the stand, also accused of negligence.
The death of Zhvania still is an extremely controversial issue among Georgians, as many people, including the family of the former PM, do not believe in the official version of what happened.
To have another investigation of the case was one of the topics debated hard during the 2012 election campaign, which brought Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition to power.
Since then, the new authorities have tried to investigate the issue and find new evidence, but still there are few, if any, real results of the reopened investigation.
In March, an anonymous user, Hakim Pasha, uploaded a video to Youtube containing the photos of the dead bodies of Zhvania and Usupov, titled ‘Saakashvili killed Mr. Zurab Zhvania’.
The photos appear to show that the former PM and his friend had bodily injuries when they died, indicating that they were killed. The video has been accepted by the court as evidence in the case against Chachua.
Supporters of the National Movement claim that the video has been uploaded by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and sometimes call current Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, who was previously interior minister, “Hakim Pasha” during political debates.