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Ex-police officials sentenced

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, November 3
Tbilisi City Court has sent two of Georgia’s former law-enforcement officials to prison over the notorious Tennis Court case (which took place under the previous state leadership) that claimed the lives of two individuals.

The Court found the former head of the Criminal Police Department Irakli Pirtskhalava and two other police officials - Giorgi Tsaadze and Kakha Nakani - guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, premeditated murder and the falsification of official materials.

Pirtskhalava and Tsaava both face a 12-year jail sentence, while Nakani’s prison term is scheduled for 8 years for the murder of Zurab Vazagashvili and Alexander Khubolov while the pair was driving a car near the tennis courts in central Tbilisi on May 2, 2006 with their friends.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office stated in February this year that Alexandre Khubulov exposed Pirtskhalava’s brother in drug-related crimes, after which the police official planned revenge, which resulted in the death of the two men.

Under the previous state leadership, the police claimed they responded with gunfire only after shots were fired from the men's vehicle; however, the families of the two deceased young men and their lawyers challenged the official version.

Authorities closed the investigation into allegations that police used excessive force due to a lack of evidence in April, 2007.

After the change of government in 2012, Georgian Dream coalition lawmakers said new evidences had emerged after the family of Vazagashvili and its lawyers obtained alternative ballistic examination results, reportedly showing that no shots were fired from inside the car.

The subject gained even higher importance after Zurab Vazagashvili’s father, Iuri, was killed in an alleged bomb detonation while visiting his son’s grave in their native village.