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Human Rights Center is working on the application against Russia in Archil Tatunashvili’s case


Natia Gogolashvili 

Human Rights Center, in Archil Tatunashvili’s case, is working on the application to the European Court of Human Rights against the Russian Federation. At the same time, the HRC calls on the Government of Georgia to use all international mechanisms to ensure effective investigation into Archil Tatunashvili’s murder case.

Archil Tatunashvili died as a result of physical violence and ill-treatment in the occupied Tskhinvali on February 22, 2018. The family received his body 26 days later – on March 20 as a result of oppression from the Government of Georgia, civil society and international organizations.

HRC executive director said the Government shall take more efforts to ensure effective investigation into the case and identify perpetrators. 

“After Archil Tatunashvili’s funeral, many problems were observed in the investigation process. In fact, it is not progressing. Two months ago, local CSOs addressed the GoG to submit inter-state application to the ECtHR against the Russian Federation. It shall sue Russia not only with regard to Archil Tatunashvili’s case but with regard to the cases of hundreds of kidnapped citizens. The Russian Federation shall be held responsible for kidnapping, disappearance and killings of people during past years,” Aleko Tskitishvili said. 

Mtskheta district prosecutor’s office started investigation into Archil Tatunashvili’s murder under Article 108 of the Criminal Code of Georgia (intentional murder). His father Giorgi Tatunashvili is legal representative of the victim.

“We are working on the individual appeal against Russian Federation. We hope the national investigation will be comprehensive and effective; it will not drag out and we will not have to appeal the ECtHR against Georgia too. However, it is not our goal at this stage. We expect the Government of Georgia to conduct effective and comprehensive investigation. As for the appeal against Russia, it is in the process of drafting,” HRC deputy executive director Tamar Avaliani said.

Representatives of the organization stated that the dead man had multiple injuries on the body that indicates that he was tortured. “We also learned that after his body was examined by the de-facto authority of South Ossetia, they removed internal organs from him. Currently, Levan Samkharauli National Bureau of Forensic Expertise is working to estimate the causes of Archil Tatunashvili’s death. In order to properly conduct the expertise, the bureau needs internal organs that shall be handed by the de-facto authority of Tskhinvali and Russian Federation,” the statement of HRC reads.

“We have many questions with regard to expertise. More than two months have passed and we have not received interim or final conclusions from them. We do not know what methodology they use during the expertise. The expertise was informed about the injuries on Archil Tatunashvili’s body from the very beginning and we wonder what their position is with regard to those injuries because there is well-grounded doubt that Archil Tatunashvili was tortured that resulted into his death,” Tamar Avaliani said.
The father Giorgi Tatunashvili said his son was tortured. He said the Samkharauli expertise is late to deliver the conclusion.

“I have photos in my phone. He has gunshot wound on the forehead; his nose was restored – it is not his original shape. His hands were hammered and then restored. Why did they need organs to make conclusion? I wonder why they did not deliver interim conclusion,” Giorgi Tatunashvili said.

Representative of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Aage Borchgrevink said the case of Archilt Tatunashvili shows that war crimes are still being committed after the 2008 war. He said international society actively reacted to this fact.

“Living in insecurity has been normalized for the local population. It is caused by impunity. Of course, the occupant regime is fully responsible for the war crimes committed there, but for the past ten year we see that the Georgian side has not carried out effective investigation into those crimes either. It is important to restore justice and estimate the truth,” Aage Borchgrevink said. 

Ministry of Justice is also working to submit the inter-state application to the Strasbourg Court with regard to Archil Tatunashvili’s case. The application will be lodged against the Russian Federation. 

“The Ministry of Justice, in coordination with the Government, started working on the application to the Strasbourg Court even when we were doing our best to get the body from Tskhinvali region back. Afterwards, they handed us the body, which we buried with full military respect, but working on the application did not stop. We will finalize it in a short time in accordance to all necessary procedures in order to increase our chances to win the trial; of course the application will be lodged against the Russian Federation,” the Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani said.

The State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Ketevan Tsikhelashvili stated the Government of Georgia is working on the application to the Strasbourg Court on Archil Tatunashvili’s case.

“Today we are carrying out investigation and are working on the application. We already stated in the past that the Government of Georgia will use all peaceful instruments – diplomatic, legal, political, and more. We were working on this application in the past too and of course the Government of Georgia is working on it,” Ketevan Tsikhelashvili said.

The chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee for Legal Issues Eka Beselia hopes the application sent to the Strasbourg Court will be very principle.

“It is significant decision that the State of Georgia appeals the Strasbourg Court with regard to this tragic fact. I think it will be very important issue. Investigation is underway but it is important instrument to use the Strasbourg Court too. I think the claim will be very principle and not only because of its legal-political sides,” Eka Beselia said.  

Representatives of Human Rights Center state that the facts of kidnapping of people, illegal restriction of movement and disappearance alongside the occupied territories of Georgia and occupation line is systemic problem. Human rights defenders state, every year, hundreds of citizens of Georgia become subjects of kidnapping and illegal restriction of movement in the occupied territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which is becoming more and more alarming. 

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