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Akhmed Chataev Innocent – MIA Compelled Witnesses to Sign Fake Testimonies

29.10.2012

Information Center of Kakheti

Human Rights Center appealed to chief prosecutor’s office of Georgia with regard to Akhmed Chataev’s case. The human rights organization requested the investigation of fake testimonies made by frontier officers against Chataev a month ago.

On October 25, ICK reported that Chechen refugee Akhmed Chataev, who was arrested in Lopota Gorge, was innocent. Frontiers told ICK, who had made testimonies against Chataev, that he was not armed during detention.

Why Chataev arrived in Lopota Gorge

According to ICK, on August 28, Akhmed Chataev arrived in Lopota Gorge from Tbilisi via the request of counter-terrorist leaders of the MIA. MIA senior officers requested his involvement for negotiations between armed Chechen and Kist militants located in the gorge. The government of Georgia requested the group of militants, who intended to travel to Chechnya via Dagestan, to surrender to Georgian law enforcement officers. Chataev entered the gorge to negotiate with militants and afterwards he told the leaders of the counter-terrorist center, whom he knew very well, that the militants refused to put down arms; they promised to return to Pankisi Gorge if the riot police left the gorge. Chataev believed they had to agree the militants’ requests with Bacho Akhalaia. Several minutes later, when Chataev was waiting for the reply, a sniper wounded him in the leg. Chataev managed to hide in the forest while 2-3 hours of open fire ensued. As a result of MIA’s special operation 2 riot police officers, one military doctor and 7 militants died. According to the spread information, 10 out of 17 militants survived.

Chataev stayed in Lopota Gorge for 10 days. Meanwhile his wound was untreated and he could not walk. He walked to the road with the support of a stick and swore to the frontiers that he was alone and without arms. The frontiers, who met him on the road, provided Chataev with his first medical aid, bandaged his wound and informed senior officers about his surrender. Afterwards, Chataev was initially taken to Tbilisi, then to Gori military hospital where his left leg was amputated. Chataev does not have right hand either; he said he had lost it during the Chechen war.

Constitutional Security Department of the MIA launched criminal case under Article 236 Part I and II of the Criminal Code of Georgia – illegal purchase, storage, possession of explosives, against Chataev; the crime is punishable by imprisonment from three to five years. Currently Chataev is in pretrial detention in jail hospital. He does not receive medicines in prison and cannot walk on his own. Chataev said the doctor of the hospital jail had told him he needs one more operation because his wound is not cured and gangrene might develop; nevertheless the detainee refuses to take medical treatment.

MIA has three witnesses in the criminal case; Giorgi Kereselidze, Badri Tkemaladze, Gogi Aivazashvili are frontiers at Lapankuri border line.

“I am a specialist- senior frontier of the (Lapankuri) second group of the VI sector of the Frontier Police fifth department. On September 7, 2012 senior frontier of the same group Gogi Avazashvili, junior inspector of the mobile platoon of the frontier police fifth department Badri Tkemaladze and I patrolled our territory by service vehicle (Mercedes Unimog). At about 4:00 pm, two kilometers away from our checkpoint we noticed a person and went towards him and asked his name and what he was doing there. He replied to us in Russian and said he was wounded. Having approached him we saw he had some things in his pockets; we detected it was fuse grenade. We pointed our guns at him and decided to immediately arrest him. I asked him to empty out his pockets and put the contents on the ground. He replied he had two hand-grenades and was ready to hand them to us. Then, he took two green grenades out off his left and right pockets. I think they were Russian hand-grenades as they had F1 with fuses on them; he put them on the ground. Afterwards I asked his name in Russian and he said he lived in Austria and said he was wounded. I told him he was detained and asked him not to move and keep his hands up. At that moment Gogi Aivazashvili and Badri Tkemaladze were standing besides me with their guns pointed at him. I approached the man and saw he did not have right hand and was limping with his left leg. I searched him and found refugee travel document, which was in English, in the pocket on his left knee. I completely searched him but he did not have anything illegal. Afterwards I removed fuses from grenades and placed in polyethylene bag (special bag of the MIA) and sealed it up; I placed the travel document in a envelope and sealed that up too. Afterwards, since there were not relevant conditions to fill in detention and search protocol, we put him in the car and took to the checkpoint (checkpoint of the VI sector); there I filled in the protocol in the presence of Russian translator Ioseb Mestiashvili. Afterwards, we introduced the detainee with the protocol context with the support of the translator but he refused to sign it for an unmentioned reason. I made a relevant note to the protocol. Since the detainee had a wound in his leg and it was festering, we immediately took him to Gori military hospital of the Defense Ministry to get medical aid,” witness Giorgi Kereselidze wrote.

The testimonies of all three frontiers are identical.

Frontiers allege they were forced to write testimonies

ICK conversed with Giorgi Kereselidze and Badri Tkemaladze. Keresildze confirmed that Akhmed Chataev personally surrendered to them and did not have any weapon or explosives with him. He said after the incident all three frontiers were summoned to the CSD and were ordered to sign testimonies there. Kereselidze said they could not resist orders. Badri Tkemaladze also added that Chataev did not have hand-grenades with him.

There was one more important circumstance. Chataev’s relatives believe that his life is in danger because he was the only witness of the special operation in Lopota Gorge. They assume senior officials of the Counter-Terrorist Center of the MIA are eager to get rid of him.

Pre-trial session on Chataev’s case is scheduled at 2:00 pm at the Tbilisi City Court on October 29. Human Rights Center’s lawyer Nino Andriashvili will protect the Chechen refugee’s rights at court.

During the first stage, Andriashvili will request to change the preventive measure and will request to find him non-guilty. Prior to release, a member of the public monitoring group, Gela Mtivlishvili, visited Chataev in custody every day.

On October 27, representatives of the UNHCR visited Akhmed Chataev at the hospital jail # 18. They promised him to attend his trial and continue monitoring of his case as well.

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