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Case of Tornike Merebashvili – the family does not trust the investigation


Lado Bitchashvili, Shida Kartli

On July 6, Tornike Merebashvili, 18, died in a vague situation in the village of Kheltubani, Gori municipality. The fact is still not investigated. According to the preliminary information, mini-bus Mercedes crashed Tornike Merebashvili on the road nearby the Kheltubani village; the young man passed away before he was delivered to the hospital. According to the MIA, the investigation started under the Article 115 of the Criminal Code of Georgia – bringing a person to the point of suicide. In the course of investigation, the qualification of the charge changed into Article 117 Part 1 and Article 276 Part V of the CCG – intentional grave injury of other’s body and violation of security or exploitation rules of the vehicle which caused the death of a person.

The father of Tornike Merebashvili announced on the second day of the accident that his son was killed. Merab Merebashvili said Tornike was assisting his friend in collecting the harvest and after the work they had a party. The father doubts there was some conflict between certain people during the party, which turned into a quarrel and ended up with the death of his son. 

“There is no progress in the investigation; I think they are either incompetent or have received instructions from above to hash this case away and leave uninvestigated. My son was first beaten and then killed,” the father of the deceased boy Merab Merebashvili said. 

The phone call, which Tornike Merebashvili made to her sister several minutes before the death reinforces the doubts of the family. 

“He called me at 1:20 am and asked the emergency call number; I inquired why he needed the number but he said there was nothing special and would explain me next day. He cut the line and then my husband called him back; Tornike told him that he felt bad and asked to see him in the hospital; then we lost contact and he never answered our calls,” Tornike Merebashvili’s sister said.

The audio-recording of Tornike Merebashvili’s call to 112 is enclosed to the case files; as the lawyer of the family said Tornike Merebashvili is telling the operator of the 112 that he was wounded.

“According to the interrogation protocols, the period of Tornike Merebashvili’s stay with the friends is not clearly determined. There is no clear answers what happened there and how Tornike turned up unconscious on the road,” the lawyer of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association Revaz Revazishvili said, who defends interests of Tornike Merebashvili’s family. The lawyer said, the investigation process raises many questions.

MIA disseminated a statement in response to the questions raised over the investigation into Tornike Merebashvili’s case. 

“Complex investigative activities are being implemented over the case. The records from the camera installed in the vicinities of the accident site were removed; 137 persons were questioned to estimate real reasons of T.M’s death. Namely, we inquired whether the death was caused by car-crash or other action – all relevant and complex medical expertise was conducted,” the MIA statement reads.

The protest demonstration with the request of investigation and two-week term for the MIA

With the request of proper investigation into Tornike Merebashvili’s death fact, the family members and relatives held protest demonstration on September 14. They tried to block the central motorway but the police and riot police officers did not allow them to block the movement. It resulted into the clash between the protesters and law enforcement officers; the officers even used electric shock. The demonstrators marched from Kheltubani village to Gori and gathered on the central square in Gori. Zaza Saralidze and Malkhaz Machalikashvili arrived in Gori and joined the protest demonstration in solidarity with Tornike Merebashvili’s father.

The fathers of the killed sons said that Tornike Merebashvili’s death case was added to the uninvestigated cases of their sons – Datuna Saralidze and Temirlan Machalikashvili.

The situation got tense after the chairperson of the Gori municipality assembly Davit Razmadze appeared with the demonstrators and told the fathers of the killed sons from Tbilisi that they were implementing the instructions of the ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili. Zaza Saralidze got irritated with it and cursed the chairman. Razmadze scolded him back but later apologized for it. 
The speakers during the demonstration requested prompt and fair investigation into the case; the family members of Tornike Merebashvili gave two-week time to the MIA to finalize the investigation; otherwise they promised to start large-scaled demonstrations. 

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