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17 more bodies identified

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Friday, September 16
17 bodies of Georgian citizens, identified after exhumation from the Babushera burial ground, Sokhumi, were reburied with full military honors at the Dighomi Brother Cemetery on September 15.

The international humanitarian aid group Red Cross has helped facilitate cooperation between the de-facto Abkhaz authorities and Georgian officials since 2010.

As a result of the negotiations, the graves of the unknown victims were opened in the villages of Gumisati, Kochara, Varche, Odishi, and at the Kukia crematory in Tbilisi, and DNA samples were taken from the bodies.

The samples from the Levan Samkharauli Forensic Bureau were sent to the Zagreb University Laboratory in Croatia.

They all were identified as victims of a plane crash which took place on September 22, 1993.

A plane carrying more than 120 people from Tbilisi was shot down while landing at Babushera Airport in Sokhumi during the Abkhaz war. People on board were planning to help civilians in Sokhumi and take the wounded back to Tbilisi but the plane was destroyed.

The event took place a few days before Tbilisi lost the battle for Sokhumi on September 27, 1993.

Authorities began to excavate the graves at Babushera Cemetery in May 2014 after long-lasting negotiations between Georgia and Abkhazia.

These 17 victims were among 60 people identified through DNA analysis over the past two years after their remains were recovered from various graves in Abkhazia since May 2014. The other 43 bodies identified using DNA testing were recovered earlier from the Babushera Cemetery and buried.

The ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia continues to negotiate in this regard and plans to transfer more bodies from the occupied territory.