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Analysis of the Khorava street murder case


The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Prosecutor’s Office are still inadequate with regard to the teenage murder case committed on December 1 2017 in Khorava Street, Tbilisi. On the one hand, the prosecutor’s office does its best to uphold its initial position in the Appellate Court, which will allow them to assign all responsibilities on the court and avoid all actual steps to be taken in relation with the case. On the other hand, if we analyze the case, which was separated from the main case – no actual steps were taken in this regard. The questions are raised about the fact that the separated case refers to not reporting the crime and alleged influence on witnesses and alleged participation of other persons in the episode of Saralidze’s murder. However, it is unclear why the case about not-reporting and influence of witnesses was separated when the investigation has not yet identified the murderer of Davit Saralidze. 

The Tbilisi Appellate Court is finalizing the proceedings into the Khorava street teenage murder case. The Court can say the final word in the case and compel both the Ministry of Internal Ministry and Prosecutor’s Office to take effective steps for the execution of justice.

The family of Davit Saralidze is not interested to defend the people participating in this case; they just want to estimate the truth, what really happened in Khorava street and why their son was murdered. Consequently, in order to inform the society what really happened, we declare that more people participated in the accident besides the convicted young people. 

To support its version, the prosecutor’s office mostly relies on the testimony of the witness, who made contradictory testimonies: although the prosecutor’s office tried to justify the contradiction between different testimonies with the influence on the witness (for what a person was charged but later the PO signed plea agreement with him and released), it was useless attempt.

After the trustworthy of witness M.K’s testimonies was questioned in the Tbilisi Appellate Court, the PO tried to justify its position stating that they do not rely only on M.K’s testimony but another witness G.M also made similar testimony.  

Witness G.M 

In his testimony, witness G.M described what happened in the shed in Khorava street and stated that he saw Davit Saralidze standing opposite G.J and Mikheil Kalandia was standing next to Saralidze. “G.J was holding a knife in his right hand and moving it against Davit Saralidze down and up, right to left. G.J several times moved the knife against Davit Saralidze and the knife he saw was silver. He did not see the moment of stabbing. At that moment, Mikheil Kalandia several times hit Davit Saralidze on the right neck. He did not see G.B in the shed.” At that moment he was helping his friend who was attacked by several adults and then returned to the shed. “He saw Mikheil Kalandia and G.J, who had blood on the clothes; he was kneeled down and tried to stand up. After that they ran away. Later he saw G.B stabbed Levan Dadunashvili in the abdomen and chest with his right hand. Afterwards, the witness described how they ran away and that G.B washed the grey (silver) knife and put it in his pocket; G.B told the witness that he had stabbed somebody. 

According to the investigative experiment protocol, which was carried out to double check the testimony of G.M, it was clarified that Mikheil Kalandia was assisting G.J in the quarrel and he described that G.B was stabbing Levan Dadunashvili with the knife and after running away he said that he had wounded somebody. 

Witness D.Gh saw that Mikheil Kalandia, G.J and Davit Saralidze were in the shed. 

Neutral witness Z.Ts stated that he saw that three young boys were standing inside the shed; as he later learned one of them was Davit Saralidze; he was standing slightly bowed inside the shed. Two boys were standing in front of him.    

Here is the question – who confirms that G.B stabbed Davit Saralidze? Only Mikheil Kalandia does. Only he mentions that G.B was inside the shed. Nobody else from the witnesses, who were on the site of accident, confirmed that G.B was in the shed. Consequently, there is well-grounded doubt that the prosecutor’s office exchanged the locations for Mikheil Kalandia and G.B.

Consequently, the only evidence for the prosecutor’s office against G.B is the testimony of Mikheil Kalandia and the knife, where Davit Saralidze’s DNA was not found. Instead, Saralidze’s bloodstain was discovered on a handkerchief, which was used to wrap the knife but it did not belong to G.B but to different person, who is an ally of G.J; the latter was stained with Davit Saralidze’s blood. In similar situation, it is impossible to claim that DNA was copied from the knife to the handkerchief. 

Besides the adults, who are convicted for the crime, many more people participated in it. The verdict of the Tbilisi City Court shares this position, which states that the prosecutor’s office with its prosecution resolution, in the frame of which the PO reviews the criminal case, brings charges about the intentional group murder of Davit Saralidze only against two defendants G.J and G.B. Consequently, the court could not determine the factual circumstances, which were not argued by the prosecution against the defendants. For example, it was unlawful to estimate that any of the defendants had committed group murder together with another person. The verdict clearly demonstrates the Court’s position about the criminal case.

As a result of the partial investigation conducted by the MIA and prosecutor’s office, the materials sent to the court did not contain important details related with the murder of Davit Saralidze. Even today, the PO tries to verify its allegation in the Tbilisi Appellate Court. 

As mentioned above, the PO mostly relies on the testimonies of the witness, which are contradictory. How can a person be a witness, who allegedly participated in the crime? Namely, it is a person, who witnessed that people were stabbing somebody in the abdomen and chest, and he was holding and kicking him in the face and shoulder (according to the PO); so, it means that with his action he participated in the group murder. 

The Ad hoc Investigative Commission of the Parliament underlined the following circumstances:

Based on the provided evidence, the Ad hoc Investigative Commission of the Parliament determined that M.K, who was not yet mentioned by the prosecutor’s office in the murder case of Davit Saralidze, was holding a subject in the hand with which he was beating Davit Saralidze. Additionally, the Commission estimated that M.K:

Showed this subject to his friends gathered in front of the Public School # 51 before the quarrel;
Showed the same subject to his friends in the Khorava street # 26 after the quarrel and said that he slashed Davit Saralidze with it. 

When collecting clarifications from the witnesses, the Commission obtained a sketch of the subject, but it is not clearly stated whether M.K’s subject had “handle” or not. This recording was available for the investigation from the very begining but the investigation and the prosecutor’s office had not paid attention to this important detail before the parliamentary commission studied the case. They have not questioned relevant witnesses and have not considered the version of M.K’s participation in Davit Saralidze’s murder; all these circumstances indicate at the partiality of the investigation.

Trace of Mirza Subeliani’s participation in the case

The commission studied the involvement of Mirza Subeliani in the investigation process. For this –purpose, they examined the investigative activities conducted in relation with Subeliani’s son and his cousin. As a result of analysis, significant facts were identified.

The investigation did not conduct necessary activities in relation with A.S, Mirza Subeliani’s son, or conducted them later:

-no samples were withdrawn from his hands and nails; the nail sample could contain the trace of blood and biological material as well as the fibber of the clothes;
-no investigative experiment was conducted;
-his house was not searched;
-A.S’s cell phone was withdrawn 15 days after the interrogation, when all information was already erased; 
-the messaging between A.S and Mikheil Kalandia in social network was not withdrawn, based on which the investigation could estimate the motive, purpose and planning details of the crime;
-A.S’s rucksack and black coat were not withdrawn;
-no secret investigative activities were conducted, including listening the phone calls.

The investigation did not conduct investigative activities with regard to Mikheil Kalandia, cousin of Mirza Subeliani’s son, or conducted them later; besides that the investigation did not consider possible participation of Kalandia in the crime. 

On December 1, 2017 the investigation already knew that Mikheil Kalandia was one of the key participants of the quarrel, who had brought his friends to the Public School # 51 to help his cousin A.S; the investigation also knew that Mikheil Kalandia hid away after the December 1 quarrel and gave wrong testimony on December 2. Regardless all these facts, the investigative body did not conduct the following necessary activities in relation with Kalandia:

-Mikheil Kalandia’s clothes (t-shirt and coat) were not withdrawn though the investigation was informed that his t-shirt was bloodstained. It is noteworthy that Mikheil Kalandia and his brother Luka Kalandia stated in their interviews with the Parliamentary Commission that the clothes was still in their house;
-Mikheil Kalandia’s computer was not withdrawn and his communication via Instagram and Facebook with A.S and G.J was not examined. With these correspondence the investigation could identify the motive, purpose and planning details of the quarrel;
-no secret investigative activities were conducted, including listening the phone calls;
-his house was not searched;
-Mikheil Kalandia’s questioning was not recorded unlike the questioning of G.M, A.D and G.B though Kalandia disappeared on the first day of the accident and gave wrong information to the police during his first interview; at the same time, unlike other participants of the case, Mikheil Kalandia was permanently in the shed during the quarrel and he eye-witnessed the deadly stabbing of Davit Saralidze;
-Investigative experiment about Mikheil Kalandia was conducted impartially and later. More precisely: 
-the location of the adults in the moment of Davit Saralidze’s murder in the shed was not examined though the investigation was informed that Mikheil Kalandia stayed in the shed from the beginning to the end of the quarrel;
-the investigation did not study where Mikheil Kalandia and other adults ran away. Consequently, they did not withdraw video-recordings from the cameras installed in Svanidze, Gudauri and Janashia streets;
-the investigation did not identify the shop, where Mikheil Kalandia bought water. Relatively, they did not identify the shop-assistant and did not question her/him either.

-the investigation did not question all witnesses, who possessed important information about Mikheil Kalandia;
-the prosecutor’s office convinced one of the witnesses not to tell the court that Mikheil Kalandia put his hand in the pocket when the quarrel started;
-the witness provided the Commission with this information (witness D.Gh);
-the investigation did not examine messaging between A.S and M.K, M.K and G.J, G.J and G. M, G.J  and G.B that was the most important evidence to estimate the real purpose why the adults arrived at the Public School # 51. It is noteworthy that the investigation never got interested in this correspondence and did not examine the gadgets of the quarrel participants;

The activities of the prosecutor’s office more clearly demonstrate the partiality of the investigation in favor of Mikheil Kalandia. Namely, the MIA estimated through the investigation that in the beginning of the quarrel, when Davit Saralidze bumped into G.J and pushed him inside the shed, M.K and D.G accompanied them. It was confirmed with multiple testimonies. However, prosecutor Zviad Pkhakadze developed the version in the court and with the Commission that after the quarrel started M.K saw how G.B stabbed Davit Saralidze from the distance of 8-9 meters (in the court he was saying 6-7 meters). The prosecutor’s office version relies only on M.K’s testimony and completely contradicts the testimonies of other witnesses. 

The prosecutor’s office permanently insisted on its initial version that M.K had seen G.B stabbing Davit Salaridze. Afterwards, he approached the wounded boy, kicked him with fists and tried to stop him. In parallel to that, he saw convicted G.J stabbing Davit Saralidze. Prosecutor Zviad Pkhakadze presented M.K’s similar action as an attempt to solve the quarrel that is absurd. 

The unity of evidence – direct testimonies of six witnesses, secret interview with G.B, testimonies of Mikheil Kalandia and his brother, based on which the prosecutor’s office developed its final speech – clearly demonstrates signs of crime in the activities of M.K. Namely, the person who is seeing that a person is stabbed in the abdomen and chest and he is holding the victim and beating him in the face and shoulder (according to the prosecutor’s office version), is actual participant of the intentional group murder. 

Prosecutor Zviad Pkhakadze clarified to the Parliamentary Commission that M.K was assisting G.J but it contradicts their position presented in the final speech in the court. According to this position, G.J was not in the condition of self-defense. He stabbed Davit Saralidze with the intention of murder. Mikheil Kalandia saw it and confirmed in his testimonies, that he was holding and beating the victim in the moment when he was being killed by others. Consequently, he actively supports the person, who had intention of Saralidze’s murder.

We would like to mention that we are not using the materials from the separated criminal case in order not to hinder the investigation, at least formally. We used only the materials which were available during court proceedings and ongoing investigation carried out by the Parliamentary Commission. 

Since December 1, 2017 the society actively observes the ongoing developments about the case, as a result of which the main prosecutor of Georgia resigned, the temporary investigative commission was established in the Parliament of Georgia, Public Defender of Georgia issued recommendations, and many NGOs reacted to the case. Regardless all abovementioned developments, today we have more questions and obscurity around the case that negatively affects the public trust to the state bodies. 

Nestan Londaridze
Lawyer of Human Rights Center
Advocate of Zaza Saralidze 

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