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New details in Buta Robakizde case

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, February 22
The investigation into the death of Buta Robakidze is ongoing and recently some new startling evidence has come to light. A number of people involved in the case have spoken about the new evidence in the unsolved case.

Robakizde was killed in his car in 2004 by a policeman Grigol Bashaleishvili. According to the police Robakidze and his companions were armed with pistols and automatic rifles. However, during his trial Bashaleishvili stated that Robakidze and his friends were unarmed. Robakidze's family members and others have claimed for years that Interior Ministry Press Spokesman Guram Donadze and other high ranking Interior Ministry officials planted the weapons in the car after the incident to make it seem that Robakidze and his companions were gang members so as to protect the image of the Patrol Police.

After coming into power the new government reopened an investigation into the case. On February 19th former chief of the Didube-Chughureti Precinct Irakli Pirtskhalava brought supposed video footage of Robakidze's altercation with Bashaleishvili to television station Rustavi 2. The video shows several armed young men in Robakidze's car.

Robakidze’s relatives have described the material as "fake". On February 21 Pirtskhalava stated that he does not believe that the current investigation into Robakidze's death is justified and asked the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi to send the footage to the FBI for authentication. Guram Donadze commented that the footage proves his innocence of any wrongdoing.

However former journalist for the program Video Patrol Gocha Mukbaniani claims that the original footage his program filmed of the incident showed that Robakidze and his companions were unarmed.

“The video footage released by Pirtskhalava shows weapons. However, the initial video footage we took did not show any weapons. I would have remembered such a fact." Mukbaniani said.

Moreover, journalist Maka Razmadze claims that the genuine video footage of the incident was destroyed by Guram Donadze. In response Donadze described those people accusing him of involvement in the case as "liars".

The Minister of Justice and the Interior Minister have stated the video footage will be examined by the investigation team who will determine its authenticity and decide whether it will allowed as evidence or not.

Independent Court Expertise of Audio and Video Materials analyst Marika Toklikishvili stated that the footage spread by Pirtskhalava is a very obvious video montage.

Buta Robakizde's father Soso Robakidze has claimed that the investigation team will soon release the names of officials and others who planted the guns at the crime scene. Soso Robakidze also mentioned that former Interior ministers Irakli Okruashvili and Vano Merabishvili might be questioned about their involvement in the case.