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Deceased Suspect’s Family Demands Fair Investigation or Vows Revenge

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, January 12
(PANKISI, Georgia)--Father of the deceased suspect Temirlan Machalikashvili says for now he trusts the investigation and demands timely account of details about shooting his son on December 26, in the country’s Muslim-populated Pankisi Gorge.

Malkhaz Machalikashvili and the family lawyer say there are many evidences that 19-year-old Machalikashvili was mistakenly killed by a law enforcer, as the latter assumed the victim was holding a hand grenade instead of a mobile phone.

“I want to see the punishment of the law enforcer who shot my son in the head and I also demand the strict punishment for those who planned the raid,” Machalikashvili said.

He stated that if the investigation fails and the government refuses to punish the law enforcers, he would do that himself.

Georgia’s Prime Minister (PM) Giorgi Kvirikashvili made a special statement over Machalikashvili’s death and spoke about the strong ties Georgia and the Kists residing in Georgia’s Panksi Gorge has had for centuries.

The PM spoke about the threats of terrorism and said the government of Georgia has taken all possible measures to avoid terrorist attacks.

According to PM Kvirikashvili, the government has had an utmost interest in the outcomes of the investigation over the terrorism suspects and counterterrorism raids in Tbilisi and Pankisi.

The PM publicly announced his condolences to the family and said that the government of Georgia and doctors have done their best to save the young man’s life.

Machalikashvili was wounded during the December 26 raid in Pankisi, which also saw the detention of four people accused of supporting the terrorist group headed by late Islamic State terrorist Ahmed Chatayev.

The raid was a follow-up raid of November 21-22 counterterrorism operation in outskirts of Tbilisi, when Chatayev blew himself up and the two persons suspected of supporting him were killed. One suspect was detained.

In the November raid one Georgian special unit serviceman Ivane Goloshvili was killed and four others were wounded.

The investigation against the detainees is in the process with the charges of providing financing and material support for “terrorist activities.” If the charges are confirmed, the detainees will face from 17 to 20 years or life imprisonment.

On January 11, the protest was organized in Tbilisi by supporters of Machalikashvili’s family demanding the righteous investigation of the case. Supporters also traveled to the Pankisi Gorge, attending the 19-yer-old’s funeral. One of the supporters Malkhaz Songhulashvili, a bishop of Evangelical Church of Georgia, said in an interview with Liberali that he expects fair implementation of the investigation process as many questions regarding the murder of the 19- year-old have not been answered yet.

Experts say, the government must act reasonably and very cautiously to avoid tensions in the Pankisi Gorge.