TBILISI, DFWatch–The Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia has described more details surrounding the death of Shalva Tatukhashvili, which it says shows that he could not have been tortured during interrogation.
Tatukhashvili, a former deputy department head of counterintelligence, was reported dead on March 25, after days of questioning by prosecutors. He was found dead in his home.
The autopsy results are not yet known, but the family claims he died from being tortured during questioning. httpv://youtu.be/f6l1LRk0EsY
This in turn was seized upon by the former ruling party, the National Movement, in order to claim that it is an example of a politicized justice system.
The Prosecutor’s Office Wednesday hit back at the National Movement and warned against political speculation into the death, and for people to wait for the results of the autopsy.
In its statement, the Prosecutor’s Office outlines the timeline of the last days of Tatukhashvili’s life, arguing that he could not possibly have been tortured:
He was summoned to the office on February 24 and showed up with two lawyers, brother and friend.
According to the statement, he was then questioned for five hours and described in detail the so-called Navtlughi special operation, in which he spoke about the crime committed by Data Akhalaia, former head of the Constitutional Security Department, who was convicted in absentia and is living abroad.
“In the course of the interrogation, Tatukashvili repeated that he might face certain problems from the family of Akhalaia and the persons closely connected to them. Therefore, his life could be at stake and he seemed afraid,” the statement reads, adding that Tatukhashvili asked to include him in the witness protection program because of his testimony.
The office agreed to include him in the witness protection program and allocated a residence for him with a personal guard.
After the interrogation, he and his lawyers safely left the office. To prove this, the Prosecutor’s Office showed footage from surveillance cameras showing that Tatukhashvili leaves the office. Afterwards he told his brother about his involvement in the witness protection program.
The Interior Ministry also provided him with a vehicle, which took him from Prosecutor’s Office to this new apartment. This is also shown on the footage shown by the office.
“It is noteworthy that neither the defense counsels nor the family members expressed objection regarding this,” the Prosecutor’s Office writes.
“All the actions were carried out in presence of the defense counsels.”
Next day, on February 25, the witness asked the guard to take him home in order to pick up some belongings.
“He disappeared from this place under obscure circumstances.”
Later media quoted his father Gogi Tatukhashvili saying that Prosecutor’s Office kidnapped his son, but according to the office, the family of the witness did not alert law enforcement bodies to ask them to initiate a search.
On 18 March, Isani Samgori Police received a report from a night club close to Lilo, a suburb of Tbilisi. According to this report, two drunk young men were behaving inadequately and disturbing the personnel. One of them turned out to be Tatukhashvili.
“The witness Tatukhashvili together with his friend Giorgi visited the club on 18 March and it is confirmed by the tape seized from the surveillance camera of the building. Since the police determined that the witness Tatukashvili was involved in the witness protection program, he was immediately located at the city prosecutor’s office.”
The office claims that footage shows that the witness was arriving alone and there was no physical pressure on him anywhere. He was asked for an explanation. He confirmed the testimony given on 24 February and explained his whereabouts after his disappearance. He stated that he feared revenge from the Akhalaia family and that he was hiding in the forest.
Again the footage from surveillance camera of the Prosecutor’s Office shows that he left the building unharmed by his own free will.
“The witness being closely related to the investigator and prosecutor gives way to them and politely enables them to pass the doors of the building.”
The Akhalaia and Tatukhashvili families claim that he was tortured this day, while the video footage doesn’t show anything that confirms that.
“Specifically, if the witness Tatukhashvili was tortured, he would be unable to move independently, and moreover, he would not have close and polite relations with the investigator.”
After leaving the office, he arrived at the house of his wife, which is proven by the footage from street surveillance cameras.
From home he called the investigator and told him that until he got a new number it was possible to call him at the number he was calling from.
He called an employee of the Prosecutor’s Office’s General Inspection and told him the same.
March 20, surveillance cameras again observed him in the same club close to Lilo.
March 21, he arrived at the Teleti Police District Station and stated that he had lost the certificate of war and military veteran document.
“It is noteworthy, that the father of the late Shalva Tatukhashvili – Gogi Tatukhashvili – published the photo of a lost certificate via social network that is shared by Akhalaia’s spouse.”
Prosecutor’s Office statement reads that the death case of Tatukhashvili is politically speculation in order to ‘overlap the criminal cases of the so called Navtlukhi Special Operation and Girgvliani’s murder case.’
“Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia calls on all parties to cooperate with the investigation and until the investigation is completed abstain from making ungrounded and defamatory statements.”
Irakli Zakareishvili, a lawyer representing Data Akhalaia who also recently began representing the deceased witness, claims the videos published by the Prosetutor’s Office do not exclude that Tatukhashvili was tortured.
He told Interpressnews that the office has published ‘edited lies and truth’.