Examination Results of Investigation Materials of Alleged Murder of Georgia’s First President Zviad Gamsakhurdia

On 26 December 2018, Public Defender Nino Lomjaria presented results of the examination of the investigation materials of alleged murder of the first President of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia.

The 16-volume criminal case of Zviad Gamsakhurdia's death, including the report of the parliamentary commission, was studied by the Public Defender's Office in September-November 2018.

As a result of studying the case materials, it has been established that the investigation failed to identify the circumstances of Zviad Gamsakhurdia's death, obtain important and substantive evidence, identify and prosecute the persons involved in the alleged crime, including those who allegedly organized, performed and assisted the crime.

Unfortunately, certain investigative actions were improperly conducted, delayed or not conducted at all. The Georgian party has not conducted forensic, chemical or other relevant examination of Gamsakhurdia's body and therefore, the number of injuries on his body (including his head), their age or origin have not been ascertained. It has neither been established of whether gunpowder or other firearm products were on Gamsakhurdia’s hands, which would have proved or ruled out the suicide. The forensic-medical examination of Gamsakhurdia's body was carried out only once, in 2007, in the Russian Federation. At that time, the body's soft tissue did not exist any longer and thus it was impossible to find traces of alleged injuries on those tissues. The investigation has not established either of whether the firearm included in the case is really the weapon with which Zviad Gamsakhurdia was shot. The case materials show that no measures were taken to protect the substantive evidence or the scene of the incident. The investigation did not obtain the bullet or its case, Gamsakhurdia's clothes, bed linen, blanket or mattress, while the cushion and bed plank were obtained 10-20 years later. The scene of the incident was not examined within reasonable time. The persons that were together with Gamsakhurdia during his death were interrogated late, while the then Prime Minister Besarion Gugushvili has not been interrogated so far. It is regrettable that none of the members of the family had been recognized as the victim's successor until 2017. From 1994 to 2015, the investigation was ongoing under categorization that does not exist in the Criminal Code - "Case of Gamsakhurdia's death". The case was categorized as murder 21 years later, in 2015. Some other investigative and procedural actions were also conducted late or were not conducted at all.

It should also be noted that the law enforcement bodies did not try to find out why investigative actions were not conducted or why investigation was not launched to identify/establish alleged political influences on the investigation or alleged attempts to hamper the investigation, destroy evidence, etc.

The Public Defender of Georgia welcomes the decision of the Parliament of Georgia to increase the limitation period of the crime, which will allow the investigation to conduct additional investigative/procedural actions.

Considering all of the above, the Public Defender of Georgia considers it necessary that:

  • The investigation into the alleged murder of Zviad Gamsakhurdia be continued, all necessary investigative measures be taken for obtaining/verifying information, the information provided by Gamsakhurdia’s family members and their lawyer be analyzed and verified;
  • In the course of the investigation, the issue of liability of persons that allegedly impeded the investigation or otherwise abused power be considered (taking into view the relevant limitation period);
  • The family be informed of the progress of investigation as much as possible;
  • Considering the high public interest in the investigation of the alleged murder of the first President of Georgia, information be periodically provided to the public about the results of the investigation.
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