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De-facto Abkhaz Government has not arrested the killer

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, June 8
Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has made a statement over the brutal murder of a Georgian citizen Giga Otkhozoria by Russian border guards on territory controlled by Georgia near the country’s western breakaway region of Abkhazia.

“More than two weeks have passed since this vicious crime appalled all of us. Unfortunately, until this very moment we have not received information concerning the detention of the murderer of Giga Otkhozoria,” the PM said.

The PM stressed it was outraging that this tragic fact has undermined the positive results attained throughout the confidence building process. Moreover, the continuation of meetings within the frames of Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism in Gali, Abkhazia, addressing conflict issues, has apparently become “increasingly challenging”.

“This fact will also hamper the dialogue under the umbrella of the Geneva Talks until the representatives of the Abkhaz Government detain the murderer of Giga Otkhozoria,” Kvirikashvili stated, and stressed that in the given case there was a risk that the murderer had been hidden.

“Moreover, a party directly interested in the disruption of the confidence building process between Georgia and Abkhazia may be ultimately responsible. Hence, we believe that much is at stake. We are facing enormous risks. The sole rational and correct action is to immediately arrest the murderer even within the frames of unilateral tools employed by de facto Abkhaz Government that we do not recognize,” Kvirikashvili says.

Kvirikashvili stated that within the frames of the Gali meeting, the Government demanded the prompt arrest of the criminal, but representatives of the Government of Abkhazia immediately linked this issue to the question of their status and referred to the non-existence of the relevant legislative framework.

“Due to the urgent nature of the issue, we consider the arrest of the criminal to be vitally important.

“Confidence between Georgians and the Abkhazians should be restored. Exemption from punishment of the perpetrator of such a violent crime will only open old wounds. This only serves the interest of enemies of Georgians and the Abkhazians. Therefore, we need a cool headed approach to reintegrate this deadlock situation with joint efforts,” the PM said.

Otkhozoria was on Georgian-controlled territory when he was gunned down by border guards stationed near the Administrative Boundary Line with Abkhazia in the afternoon on May 19.

Otkhozoria was shot six times, including once in the head. He was rushed to hospital but died soon after.

On May 21 Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office announced that individual who shot Otkhozoria had been identified.

That same day, video footage was released which showed Otkhozoria retreating from a confrontation with the guards when he was shot.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office has approached Interpol to announce an international search for Otkhozitia’s murderer.