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Murder of 16-Year-Old Boy in Unprotected Border Village

Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti

A person was murdered at Georgia-Azerbaijan border. Witnesses said Azeri border guard shot 16-year-old Akhmed Gaurgashvili, resident of the village of Erisimedi in Sighnaghi district, on Georgian territory. Locals state Georgian border guards do not control the border; they are standing only at the checkpoint at the entrance to the village.

The murder happened at about 7:00 pm on April 13. Akhmed Gaurgashvili went for fire-wood to the forest and saw the cattle of his neighbors had crossed the fence and tried to pasture them back; at that moment he was shot in the head and killed on the place.

“We made the fence to keep our cattle away from crossing the Azerbaijan border. We made the fence on our territory, about 8-10 meters away from the border inside our territory. Akhmed did not cross the fence when they shot him and killed on our territory. As soon as he was killed, armed Azeri border guards ran to him and did not let us approach him. Akhmed requested our help, he was crawling towards us but they did not let him reach us. He was lying on the ground for half an hour and was bleeding. Then, our neighbors came and we took the boy when he was already dead,” said the witness Mindia Tavartkiladze. He said Georgian border guards were not at the border during the incident.

“Almost entire village arrived at the place because Azeri border guards did not allow us to take the dead boy. Azeri border guards threatened us with automatic guns and warned us in Russian not to approach them. The boy was on our territory but they did not allow us to approach him. We got astonished and decided to disobey their order despite their threats. Since then, the Azeri border guards are working in extraordinary regime. They worked all night long,” said resident of Erisimedi village Dato Makharadze.

The medical expertise was already carried out on the dead boy. He was taken to the village of Duisi in Pankisi Gorge; he was ethnic Kist.

Criminal case was launched on the accident. According to the head of the Kakheti region main department of the ministry of internal affairs Davit Kokiashvili, the investigation was launched under Article 108 of the Criminal Code of Georgia. Nobody has been suspected in the murder of Akhmed Gaurgashvili yet.

Residents of the village of Erisimedi in Sighnagji district claim – the murder would not have happened if Georgian border-guards had protected the border.

“There were no Georgian border-guards in the area of the accident. They did not arrive here even after the murder. The prosecutor from Telavi also inquired where the border guards were. They prefer to drive on the motor-way and to deploy at the entrance to the village in order to get dirty with mud. If they had controlled the border, the accident had not had happened,” said Murad Tavartkiladze.

Beglar Abashidze, governor of the village Erisimedi: “Georgian border-guards are deployed at the checkpoint only at the entrance to Erisimedi. They are walking in the surrounding area. They do not know what the real border is. Azeri border-guards and shepherds walk into the territory where the murder happened without any problems; they even steal our cattle. They drink water from our well; since they are armed, villagers are afraid of them and cannot even fetch water from our well. Border Police of Georgia does not respond to similar facts.”

Erisimedi residents request the MIA to control Georgian-Azerbaijan border in their village. Humanrights.ge has already written about inactivity of Georgian border-guards and problems of local people (see: http://www.humanrights.ge/index.php?a=article&id=4832&lang=en).

Dedoplistskaro district office of the border service does not comment on the problems.

Border Police of Georgia does not control the border; the former head of the border police Badri Bitsadze also confirmed the fact. He said Georgian border is not protected.

“The border service, which complied with every requirement of international standards, was abolished. The only purpose of the border police within the MIA is to find out where opposition leaders are traveling and whether they are bringing money to the country or not. Today, the main function of the border police is to control airport and custom houses. They have abolished aviation, while Caucasian range and Russian-Georgian border cannot be controlled without aviation. They have abolished special unit because many members of the unit were close to Badri Bitsadze. Georgia-Azerbaijan border is completely unprotected,” said Badri Bitsadze.

It is noteworthy, that the murder at Georgia-Azerbaijan border happened in 2003 too. Azeri border guards killed 27-year-old Oleg Matiahsivli, resident of Lagodekhi district at the Lagodekhi custom’s house. Nobody was punished for the murder.

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