The messenger logo

Key witness in minors’ murder case, charged with murder, sent to pre-trial detention

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, June 7
The Tbilisi City Court sent the main witness in the high-profile murder case of two teenage boys in 2017, Mikheil Kalandia to pre-trial detention on Thursday.

Kalandia was detained on June 3 and was charged with premeditated murder of Davit Saralidze by a group in aggravating circumstances on June 5, shortly after the verdict of Tbilisi Court of Appeals on June 3 which sent one individual, identified as G.J., in prison for murder of Saralidze and said that “some others helped him” to kill the minor.

On Thursday, the family members of the suspect stated at the trial that he is innocent and that his detention has political grounds.

The family believes that the government is eager to calm down the turmoil around the case which has already triggered several street rallies and the resignation of Chief Prosecutor in 2018.

“I let out pigeons in the yard of the court to show that freedom will come soon,” brother of the suspect said.

The father has told the media that police physically insulted him and his son shortly after the incident in 2017 to make them write the testimony they wished.

Zaza Saralidze, the father of the deceased minor, has been mentioning t since the fatality took place, demanding his punishment.

When Kalandia was detained Saralidze said that the “justice was restored.”

Now he says that he is waiting for the fair verdict.

Unlike Tbilisi City Court in 2018, the Court of Appeals managed only this month to name one individual who killed 16-year-old Davit Saralidze.

The Court of Appeals ruled on June 3 that G.J., who was also a minor that time, killed Saralidze, with the help of “unidentified individuals,” in December 2017 in central Tbilisi, during the brawl of schoolchildren, leaving Saralidze with multiple injuries in his back [which later caused his death] and Levan Dadunashvili murdered at the scene.

Two minors, G.B., and G.J., were detained for the case in 2017.

The Court of Appeals sent both detainees to 11 years and three months in prison for the murder of Dadunashvili and Saralidze respectively, as they were minors at the time of the incident, the verdict which might appeal to the Supreme Court of Georgia.

The controversial verdict in 2018 by Tbilisi City Court said that G.B. killed Dadunashvili and G.J. attempted Saralidze’s murder, failing to say who killed the latter.

The verdict led to street rallies to support Zaza Saralidze “find offenders and hold them accountable.”

Zaza Saralidze stated that top officials of the Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office “concealed details and hid several of the offenders” of the case.

Saralidze stated that former official of the Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office Mirza Subeliani was one of such figures.

Controversies around the case push Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze quit his post last year.

Subeliani was also detained and sent to one-year in prison for “not reporting a crime,” as the case involved his relatives. He will leave prison in the summer.

Kalandia, who is Subeliani’s relative, has been frequently cited as a possible offender by Saralidze.

As of now, one is sentenced for murder of Saralidze and another charged with murder.