Court decision on Tbilisi schoolchildren murder may lead to mass protests
Six months after the brutal murder of two 16-year-olds, Levan Dadunashvili and David Salaridze in downtown Tbilisi, a court has handed down a verdict partially acquitting the accused.
The court ruled one of the two defendants partially guilty of the murder of Dadunashvili, while acquitting him in the murder of Salaridze. As for the second suspect in the murder of Salaridze, his crime was requalified from pre-meditated murder to attempted murder, reports Novosti Gruzia.
The court’s decision has been met with outcry.
The father of Saralidze, Zaza, has called upon the Georgian public to support him and come out onto the streets demanding the resignation of the main prosecutor Irakli Shotadze.
Salaridze’s main issue is not with the court but with the prosecutor’s office. Earlier, Saralidze stated on multiple occasions that the police had not detained all those guilty of the crime. Salaridze, over the course of several months, accused the prosecutor’s office of creating obstacles in providing for an objective investigation and of covering up for the suspect, who is the son of a former prosecutor office employee.
“My words were confirmed by the court which acquitted the suspects in my son’s case. The court has, with this decision, told the prosecutor’s office that the real killers are at liberty,” Salaridze told journalists after the court session.
Salaridze’s lawyers also say that the court decision was just a ‘slap-in-the-face’ for the prosecutor’s office which has let the real guilty parties go free.
After the court’s decision was released, a protest flared up outside of the court building as Saralidze and dozens of other people who had come to support him yelled “shame!” and “murderers!”
“This system must be destroyed. Either it will be destroyed, or I’ll die. I call on everybody to stand together with me,” Salaridze told journalists emotionally.
People who want to support Salaridze’s father are now gathering at the prosecutor’s office. Representatives from different opposition parties and the public have also joined in.
In the parliament, the opposition plans to create a special commission and invite the head prosecutor to the parliament to ask him questions:
“The person whose son died of twelve knife wounds is being told that the murderer of his son does not exist. He came up against unfathomable injustice and the situation may become dangerous on the street. For that reason, we must do all we can to get involved in this case,” said European Georgia representative Elene Khoshtaria.
David Saralidze and Levan Dadunashvili, two 16-year-old students of Tbilisi public school No. 51, were victims of a bloody fight which broke out on a busy street in Tbilisi, Khorava Street, on 1 December 2017 in the daytime.
They both received fatal knife wounds. Dadunashvili died on the spot while Saralidze died later in hospital. Afterwards, the police detained two under-age individuals and confiscated their weapons – two knives.
According to the lawyer of one of the detainees, the suspected adolescents did not commit murder. Moreover, he says, today’s court decision proves that the real murderer of David Saralidze has still not been arrested.
“The court decision was expected by us. We were sure that the court would say that my defendant did not kill David Saralidze. The court took our side on this issue. Those who really committed the murder of David Saralidze have still not been brought to justice. This decision must serve as an impetus for the investigative departments to find the real perpetrators,” said lawyer Tariel Kakabadze.