The messenger logo

Officials shocked by Vazagashvili’s death

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, January 22
The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has launched an investigation regarding the premeditated murder of Iuri Vazagashvili, who was killed by an explosion planted next to his son’s grave which he was visiting on January 20.

Vazagashvili had campaigned for an investigation into the death of his son who was killed in a police operation in 2006. His family members and friends have excluded suicide and stressed he was killed because of his fight to prove his son’s innocence.

In a newspaper interview released on January 19, a day before his death, Vazagashvili criticized the authorities for their lack of progress in the investigation, while at a press conference last week, he said that some law enforcement officers who were part of the operation in which his son was killed, were still working for the Interior Ministry and blamed minister Aleksandre Tchikaidze for protecting them.

Georgian high-ranking officials have called Vazagashvili’s death “shocking” and have requested that police launch an urgent investigation.

"I want to offer my sincere condolences to the Vazagashvili family. This family has experienced another unimaginable tragedy,” Gharibashvili said.

"I demand that the Chief Prosecutor’s Office investigate Iuri Vazagashvili’s case immediately and finish its investigation into Zurab Vazagashvili’s case,” the PM said.

Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani stated that the Chief Prosecutor’s Office was on the right path regarding Z. Vazagashvili’s case and the case could soon be solved.

Meanwhile, local NGOs made a joint statement requesting that the appropriate bodies undertake a timely investigation and asked them to inform the public about the news concerning Z. Vazagashvili’s case.

Dozens of people, including the members of NGOs, also gathered late on Tuesday night outside the Parliament in Tbilisi, demanding a prompt investigation.

Zurab Vazagashvili and Aleksandre Khubulov were killed by the police, who were armed with machine guns, while driving in car in central Tbilisi on May 2, 2006. Police claimed they had to respond with fire only after shots were fired from inside the car. But an alternate ballistic investigation commissioned at the time by the Public Defender’s Office found that no shots had been fired from the car. In April 2007 the authorities closed the investigation into allegations that police used excessive force. However, the Vazagashvili family continued to accuse the authorities of fabricating evidence and various wrongdoing in the case. In 2007 the family also took the case to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.

The authorities reopened the investigation after the change of government in late 2012, and it is still ongoing.