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Mysterious case of robbery


Natia Gogolashvili

On April 25, the Appellate Court held the scheduled hearing into the case of Temur Beridze, Koba Shevardenidze, Nodar Artmelidze and Ketevan Khmaladze. They are convicted for the robbery, which happened on January 23, 2016. According to the investigation, 5 persons broke into the house of B.S in Charentsi Street # 17 in Ninotsminda to rob the family. According to the case files, the mother of B.S (owner of the flat) resisted the robbers and one of the robbers started beating her, finally killed the woman with knife. However, the accused persons were acquitted in the murder as there were no evidence to find them guilty in the murder. In parallel to that the court found all three accused persons guilty in the robbery and sentenced them to 9 years imprisonment. The verdict was passed on October 4, 2016.  

The convicted people do not admit the charge and try to prove their innocence in the appellate court for more than one year already. HRC lawyer Eka Kobesashvili defends interests of the convicted Ketevan Khmaladze in the court. HRC lawyer Dimitri Nozadze defends rights of Temur Beridze, Koba Shevardenidze and Nodar Artmelidze. The advocates state that the investigation into the committed crime was carried out through violations, the police officers abused their power during the detention of the convicted people and beat and tortured them to obtain their confession statements.

On April 25, the prosecutor made a final speech at the hearing. He underlined several issues from the case files. First, the prosecutor mentioned the fact of the murder in the case. He claimed Temur Beridze is guilty in the murder. 

“We discovered a blood stain in the car, where Temur Beridze was sitting. According to the expertise conclusion, the blood belongs to the genetic profile of the killed woman. Also, there is a knife in the case, which was thrown away from the car according to the instruction of Beridze. I believe, the Akhaltsikhe city court had to consider the evidence in complex and pass guilty verdict against Beridze,” the prosecutor said.

HRC lawyer Dimitri Nozadze said there is doubt that the law enforcement officers left the blood stain in the car themselves.

“One of the experts said that the police officers were cleaning the blood-stain with cotton when examining the body; so it is not excluded that they used it to leave stains in the car too. The prosecutor mentions the knife, which was thrown away from the car but the investigation could not find it. Consequently, there is no direct evidence to claim that Temur Beridze committed the murder. The dead woman had hair in her hand but the investigation did not estimate whom the hair belonged to,” said Dimitri Nozadze.

He added that Ivane Gelashvili informed the investigation about the accident. He signed plea-agreement with the prosecutor’s office. However, it is noteworthy that he had been convicted several times for denunciation. 

“Gelashvili said that allegedly Shevardenidze called him and asked to arrive in Ninotsminda. According to Gelashvili, during the meeting he noticed Beridze giving a knife to Artmelidze and asking to throw it away. Gelashvili claimed he learned about the robbery and murder in the car. However, my clients made different statements. As Shevardenidze said they met Gelashvili before January 13. Shevardenidze said Gelashvili had called him and asked help in potato business. Beridze was also supposed to help them in it. Consequently, Ivane Gelashvili’s testimony is not trustworthy, particularly considering that he was convicted for denunciation in the past,” Dimitri Nozadze said. 

The prosecutor claims there is a video-recording from the Ninotsminda based gas-station, which shows how Temur Beridze, Nodar Artmelidze, Koba Shevardenidze, Ketevan Khmaladze and Ivane Gelashvili are charging the car with gas and then leave the station. The advocate claims the convicted people were before January 13 – the date of robbery. 

In his final speech the prosecutor underlined the torture fact of Ketevan Khmaladze. He said the convicted Temur Beridze and Koba Shevardenidze injured her. The prosecutor said, according to the medical expertise, Ketevan Khmaladze’s injuries had blue-yellow color and were dated several days prior to the robbery. The prosecutor added that Khmaladze’s injuries on the arm were dated back to January 7-8. 

“There are several letters in the case files where Ketevan Khmaladze indicates that she was personal victim of the harasser Koba Shevardenidze and Temur Beridze. The latter injured her, when they took her to Ninotsminda by force on January 13, 2016. Shevardenidze knew that Ketevan Khmaladze had learned about their plan and was forced to take the woman to Ninotsminda. If Ketevan Khmaladze had stayed in Tkemlana village, she would have informed law enforcement officers about their plans as the woman had good relations with police officers. Ketevan Khmaladze stated she was a victim, she was protecting her son as they were threatening her to kill him. Consequently she was compelled to accompany them,” prosecutor said.

As the prosecutor added, nothing was mentioned in the case files about Ketevan Khmaladze’s broken fingers and consequently there appeared doubts that law enforcement officers broke her fingers. 

“Ketevan Khmaladze was expertise and they had not identified any broken fingers. If she did not trust the expertise, she could conduct the expertise herself to prove the fact. Consequently it is not reality,” the prosecutor said. 

Dimitri Nozadze states the prosecutor made absurd statement and added that the letters, mentioned by the prosecutor, do not exist in the case files. 

“These absurd accusation was announced only in the appellate court and it is desperate position of the prosecutor’s office. If the prosecutor’s office was informed about this issue, why they did not present those letters in the Akhaltsikhe district court?! There are no letters in the case files. If Beridze and Shevardenidze beat Ketevan Khmaladze, then who injured them?! The prosecutor received all testimonies as a result of beating and torture. The pretrial detention setting did not accept them because their health conditions were not satisfactory. The police claimed they used proportionate power against them. If it is true, then the convicted persons should have had injuries on the hands and not in heads.

One of the experts is a relative of one of the police officers, who participated in the torture and physical assault of the detainees. Maybe the convicted persons could not afford independent expertise. The investigation had to get interested in the alternative expertise but they try to impose all responsibilities on these people. They are obliged to prove the accusation. They must do it in accordance to the law and not through violations and torture,” Dimitri Nozadze said.

The next hearing in the appellate court is scheduled at 12:00 pm on June 6. 

On the same topic:

Investigation into the abuse of power by police officers is dragged out

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