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Temirlan Machalikashvili has deceased – questions about the special operation case


Natia Gogolashvili 

Temirlan Machalikashvili, wounded during the special operation in Pankisi Gorge, died of injuries in the morning of January 10. On December 26, 2017, Temirlan Machalikashvili, 19-year old, was shot in the head during the special operation, which was carried out by the State Security Service in Pankisi. From Telavi referral hospital, on December 28, he was taken to Tbilisi St. Michael Archangel’s Medical Clinic, where he spent 12 days.
During the special operation in Pankisi, the State Security Service (SSS) arrested 5 persons, among them was Temirlan Machalikashvili. According to the SSS, all five persons were allies of the terrorism-related suspect Akhmed Chataev’s group. According to the investigation body, the SSS officers shot Temirlan Machalikashvili when he tried to detonate hand-grenade. The family of the 19-year old man claims the security operatives entered his room when he was sleeping and could not detonate the grenade. 

Counterintelligence Department under the State Security Service of Georgia detained 5 citizens of Georgia in Tbilisi, villages Duisi and Omalo of Akhmeta region: Zurab Gornakashvili, Ruslan Aldamov, Ramaz Margoshvili, Badur Chophanashvili and Temirlan Machalikashvili. The detainees are linked to the group members neutralized in the course of 21-22 November special operation conducted on Beri Gabriel Salosi Street and are their facilitators. The mentioned individuals facilitated transportation of Akhmed Chataev and his accomplices at first on the territory of Turkey from their temporary housing address to green border of Georgia Kirnati-maradidi section and assisted them in illegal crossing of the border via this section. As a result of investigative activities, audio recordings have been retrieved from the computer and various  electronics which belonged to Akhmet Chataev found in the flat located on Beri Gabriel Salosi Street. According to the records, Akhmet Chataev and his accomplices planned to carry out terrorist attacks in Georgia and Turkey,” deputy head of the State Security Service Nino Giorgobiani stated.

The grandmother of the deceased Machalikashvili, Elene Machalikashvili recalled the developments of December 26. “I heard terrible noise at 3:15 am, when security officers rushed into the bedroom on the second floor, where the boy was sleeping. The door was not locked. Several seconds later I heard terrible gunshot. The yard was overcrowded with security officers; they did not allow us to go outside. The masked officers were in the yard. My son and daughter-in-law were downstairs. We requested them to show the boy to us; he was struggling with death. We did not hear any noise after shooting; we did not even hear moan. It was about 8:00 am when they brought him downstairs by hand-barrow and took away. He was shot in the forehead,” Elene Machalikashvili said.

“My son did not go to sleep until morning prayers. We usually pray at 4:30 am. He was tall, 198 centimeters high and rested to the top of the bed with his shoulders. Apparently he was holding a telephone. He was shot in the bed; the bullet is in the wall. I went out because of the noise and they pushed me down the ground; they did not allow me to go upstairs. I heard how they called ambulance and about one hour later they took him to Telavi hospital; they could not take him to Tbilisi because he was bleeding,” Malkhaz Machalikashvili, the father of the deceased young man, said.

Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center published a statement about legal aspects and fact details into the case, which raise questions. 
“The action punishable under Article 3311 of the Criminal Code of Georgia can be considered committed if the person is aware that he/she is assisting the terrorist organization or terrorism-related person. The published video-footage cannot prove that Temirlan Machalikashvili was supporting the terrorism. Moreover, media reports show that the people in the video-footage, ethnic Chechens S. Borziev and A. Saltankhmadov had been in Georgia, in Pankisi too, for the past two years and they had communication with many individuals. At the same time, if those people were identified as members of the terrorist organization, it was responsibility of the law enforcement bodies. The information disseminated by the SSS about the discovery of T. Machalikashvili’s bank account requisites in the flat in Gabriel Salos Street in Tbilisi needs additional evidence. Another indication of the SSS, which claims that they removed money from Machalikashvili’s house, also needs evidence because the family members state the money belonged to their daughter, who lives in Germany and had sent the money to purchase a house in Georgia. In general, alongside leaving Machalikashvili without procedural status, the video-footage published by the SSS indicates at the interest of the investigative body to speak about the guiltiness of Machalikashvili based on inadequate standards and cover the criticism about the large-scaled and violent special operation in Pankisi Gorge and use of clearly unproportional power against Machalikashvili,” the statement of EMC reads.
Temirlan Machalikashvili’s body was taken to Levan Samkharauli National Expertise Bureau from the hospital. 

“On January 9, in the late afternoon, his conditions seriously worsened. Later, at dawn, his heart stopped. It had three episodes. We managed to restore beating of the heart three times but the fourth time, despite our efforts, it was impossible to save him. In the morning of January 10, at about 8 am, we identified biologic death,” clinic manager of the St. Michael Archangel Hospital Zaza Lursmanashvili said. 

Independent expert Maya Nikoleishvili will also participate in the expertise. “The main question, which should be answered, is what the shooting distance is and what was the pose of Temirlan when he was shot,” Nikoleishvili said in the TV-program 360 Degrees of the PalitraNews on January 9. 

“It is necessary to estimate the last point from where the bullet was removed. When I saw the place, it was cut out; the bullet was taken out and I do not know what is its last point, where the bullet stopped. Afterwards we will restore what happened; maybe the investigation also did that but naturally we are also curious to see the details. We might receive those parameters which the investigation has estimated. The trajectory of the bullet enables us to estimate whether the man was sitting or lying. Thus, we need parameters which are available for the investigation. Their materials are not available for us. So, I cannot say where the hand-grenade was and whether he could take it. The investigation has some materials, and we need to have access to them; otherwise we will speak only about pose,” Maya Nikoleishvili said. 

EMC request to grant victim status to Temirlan Machalikashvili. EMC representative Tamta Mikeladze said, according to preliminary survey, there is a doubt that unproportionate power was used against Machalikashvili during the special operation. She added that it is curious how timely the medical assistance was provided for Temirlan Machalikashvili. 

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