special operation

Special Operation in Pankisi Raises Questions about Abuse of Power

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Photo: პირველი არხი

The family of Temirlan Machalikashvili today demanded to requalify the investigation into the death of their son from Article 333, Exceeding Official Powers, to Article 108 for Murder.

19-year-old Machgalikashvili died on January 10 of injuries which he sustained during a special operation carried out by the State Security Service of Georgia in the village of Duisi in the Pankisi Gorge, on December 26. The special operation was linked to a special operation in Tbilisi on November 22 in which three ISIS members including Akhmed Chatayev engaged in a 24-hour-shootout with special forces.

Machlikashvili received gunshot injuries to the head during the special operation in Pankisi; the State Security Service said he tried to resist special forces using a hand grenade and that they “responded with proportionate force by shooting Machalikashvili.”

The attorney representing Machlikashvili’s family, Mariam Kublashvili, said that law enforcers framed Machalikashvili by planting a hand grenade in the house. The family says their son did not have a grenade and that Machilikashvili was shot in his bedroom while he was sleeping.

Public Defender Nino Lomjaria said yesterday that she promises her office will do everything to investigate whether there was abuse of power from law enforcers in the case of Temirlan Machalikashvili.

"I promise to do my best in terms of my capacities to establish whether there was a fact of excessive use of force during the special operation and whether timely medical assistance was provided in order to keep the life of the person.” Lomjaria said.

Machalikashvili originally was taken to the hospital in Telavi and was transferred to Tbilisi as his health conditions worsened. Machalikashvili was confirmed on January 4 to be transferred to a hospital in Turkey for treatment, but died before the negotiations with the Health Ministry were finalized.

The Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) plans to send the case of Temurlan Machalikashvili to the European Court of Human Rights. According to lawyer Tamta Mikeladze, there were problematic issues regarding the proportionality and necessity of the shooting and whether there was timely medical assistance.

"It is clear that this was a murder committed by the state against Temirlan Machalikashvili, and we will use all the means of the legal protection to establish the truth in the case and protect the rights of the suffering family. In this case, problems are linked to the proportionality and necessity of the shooting and to the timely and adequate medical assistance. We will examine these issues in details and establish the truth about the case through the European Court of Human Rights. Because of the high political interest in the case, we do not have full trust in the local investigation,” Mikeladze said.

Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said about the death that “It is unfortunate that it was impossible to save Temirlan Machalikashvili… but the state and doctors did everything to keep his life alive… I want to express my condolences to his family.”

Analysts on security issues, Gia Khukhashvili and Nodar Kharshiladze blame Government of Georgia for the problems associated with special operation in Pankisi. According to them, the special operation and specifically the history of Akhmed Chatayev had a negative impact on the country.

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