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Temirlan Machalikashvili's death remains uninvestigated after two years

By Levan Abramishvili
Friday, December 27
Two years have passed since the State Security Service's (SSS) large-scale special operation in Duisi village, but the ongoing investigation into Temirlan Machalikashvili's brutal murder has so far produced no results.

No one has been prosecuted for more than two years since the investigation began and Machalikashvili’s parents have not been granted the victim’s legal successor status.

Local NGO, Human Rights and Monitoring Center (EMC) issued a statement alleging that the negligence in the investigation of Machalikashvili's death is unfair to family members who have been seeking legal remedies from the State for two years, instead of recognizing and persecuting criminals, though, the family members have become the target of dehumanization and harassment instead of restoring their rights and seeking fair justice.

“It was clear from the outset that the investigation would have only formal and illusory nature and would complicate achieving fair justice due to the State Security Service's illegal interference into the investigation and substantial violation of the rules for obtaining and keeping evidence, as well as the dehumanization of the Machalikashvili family,” reads the statement.

According to EMC, an effective and thorough investigation into Machalikashvili's case was critical to restoring confidence in the rule of law for the local Pankisi community. In the past few decades, no serious cases of the State violence in the Pankisi Gorge have been properly investigated, creating a problem of mistrust and alienation among locals.

“The case of Machalikashvili further highlighted the severe legal and social consequences of a policy-oriented towards repression, punishment and control in the Pankisi Gorge and created a critical need of changing such policy,” says EMC.

EMC claims that the investigative actions carried out by the Prosecutor's Office have already identified important legal conditions and the legal basis for assessing responsibility for specific persons has been established.

Some of the circumstances mentioned in the statement include the expert assessment, saying that when Machalikashvili was shot he was laying in the horizontal position, which rules out that he would be able to detonate a grenade, which the SSS alleges. As well as that the special operation in Pankisi Gorge was planned with oral consultations and the risk assessments and written instructions weren’t provided.

It is noteworthy that Machalikashvili’s case is already being dealt with by the European Court of Human Rights, where, on behalf of the family, EMC has alleged the breach of the Articles 2 (Right to Life), 3 (Prohibition of Torture and Inhuman Treatment) and 13 (Right to Effective Remedies) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The European Court has already set a deadline for the Georgian government to answer questions and share case files on the case. EMC expresses hope that using international mechanisms will enable the Machalikashvili family's real rights to be restored and justice achieved.

Considering the above, EMC once again calls on the Prosecutor’s Office to come to a conclusive decision on the case, revealing the criminal responsibility of those carrying out the shooting, planners of the special operation and granting Malkhaz and Mediko Machalikashvili the legal status of the victim’s successors.

19-year old Temirlan Machalikashvili was fatally wounded during an anti-terrorist raid in the Pankisi Gorge on December 26, 2017. Officials claim that he was shot while trying to detonate a grenade. The family says that he was sleeping when the police entered the house and shot him without warning.

Machalikashvili has been protesting and asking for fair investigation and restoration of justice since May 2018.