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Amnesty International Demands Transparency on Tatunashvili’s Case

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, March 7
(LONDON)--The Amnesty International, a London-based influential non-governmental organization for human rights with more than 7 million members and supporters around the world, has issued a special statement, demanding full and transparent investigation of Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili’s death in the occupied Tskhinvali region and handing over the body to his family more than a week after the death.

“Russia and the de facto authorities in Georgia’s disputed Tskhinvali Region must ensure a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation into the death of a Georgian detainee, Archil Tatunashvili; and his body should be returned to his family as soon as possible,” the Amnesty International says.

The statement reads that 35-year-old Tatunashvili was detained on 22 February 2018 in Tskhinvali Region.

According to local Ossetian media he was accused of "cooperating with Georgian law enforcement officers and participating in the Russia-Georgia war in 2008”.

Tatunashvili’s family told Georgian media that Archil Tatunashvili was visiting his house in Tskhinvali Region. He died in custody later that day.

The de facto authorities claim that his death resulted from a fall after a fight with police during his transfer to a detention facility.

They say he had attempted to grab a guard’s weapon and then stumbled, falling down a staircase and sustaining fatal injuries. The de facto authorities in Tskhinvali Region have not returned Tatunashvili’s body to his family in Georgia.

“It is a fundamental rule of international human rights law that no-one may be arbitrarily deprived of his or her life,” the statement reads.

“Under international standards, a death of any type in custody should be regarded as prima facie a summary or arbitrary execution and there should be a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation to confirm or rebut the presumption,” the organization added.

The Amnesty International claims that the failure to respect the duty to effectively investigate Tatunashvili’s death would itself amount to a breach of the right to life.

“Families of the deceased have rights under international law and standards. They should be entitled to have a representative present during the autopsy. Upon completion of the necessary investigative procedures, the body should be returned to the family, allowing them to hold funeral rites for the deceased according to their beliefs,” the organization stressed.

Tatunashvili and two other Georgian citizens were detained by the occupying forces on February 22 in Akhalgori, a territory currently controlled by Russians. Levan Kutashvili and Ioseb Pavliashvili have been released from detention but they cannot leave the occupied territory due to the fact that their identification documents have been confiscated.