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Searches Are On To Find Georgian Pilot Captured In Congo, Defense Minister Says

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, January 29
(TBILISI) - Georgia’s Defense Minister Levan Izoria says the Georgian side is doing its best to find out the fate of Georgian pilot Soso Osorauli, who was captured by the Congolese rebels in January, 2017.

The Minister claims that the statement of Osorauli’s family, declaring they are notinformed about the current status of search by the Georgian side, is not true.

“We provided the family with all the information we’ve had, this is all I can say,” Izoria stated.

He added the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) has launched the investigation into the case and urged everyone to wait for the results.

“We are working in every direction within the legal grounds, including investigation and diplomatic channels,” Izoria said.

The information about Osorauli’s alleged death was released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Georgia last year, while the family assures he is alive.

Osorauli’s family members have stated they do not trust the investigation of POG. They ask for the status of victim and for access to the case materials.

“The Georgian side cannot again declare Osorauli dead, nor they can claim he is alive, because they have no enough information about him,” Soso Osorauli’s wife, Nino, told the media.

She added the servicemen in Congo, who worked with the Georgian pilot, said he is alive and his death has not been confirmed by Congolese side.

Giorgi Osorauli, Georgian pilot’s brother, says he received information from Congolese sources that his brother is alive. He left Georgia to look for his brother and is planning to visit Congo.

“From the Georgian side, I have not received any concrete information about my brother since August 2017. I will go to Congo and find him myself,” Giorgi Osorauli said.

In February, the MFA and the Ministry of Defense (MoD) confirmed that one Georgian was wounded and another was captured after two helicopters of Congo Air Force were shot down by rebels on January 27.

Georgia’s MoD stated that the reason for the Georgian citizens’ presence in Congo was unknown to them but added that Osorauli used to serve in Georgian Armed Forces, which he quit in 2015 for personal reasons.

In late May, 2017, the MFA of Georgia held a special briefing, saying there were rumors that an attack took place between the opposed parties in Congo and Osorauli was killed, but they added the information had not been confirmed officially yet.

In June 2017, one of the friends of Soso Osorauli stated that the pilot was alive and the rebels were requesting the release of General Bosko Ntaganda in exchange for his freedom.

After a month, Georgian channel Iberia TV released a video of Osorauli addressing his family members and asking them not to believe the accusation that he killed many people.

Since then no official information about the Georgian pilot has been released.