Abkhaz border guard who shot, killed Georgian citizen 4 years ago remains unpunished
Four years ago today, an Abkhaz border guard Rashid Kanji-Ogly shot and killed Giga Otkhozoria at a checkpoint. Despite the fact that the murder was captured by surveillance cameras, the offender remained unpunished.
The military prosecutor’s office in Sukhumi said it saw no signs of crime in the incident.
The Georgian opposition accuses the authorities of passivity, inability to conduct an investigation, and that it is doing nothing to expand the Tatunashvili-Otkhozoria List, which includes 33 people. This list includes persons who have committed crimes against Georgian citizens in the occupied territories (Abkhazia, South Ossetia) – abductions, torture, murder and other crimes.
The family of Otkhozoria is seeking justice in the Strasbourg Human Rights Court, where it filed a lawsuit against Russia in January 2018. The court has already begun considering the case.
The murder of Giga Otkhozoria
30-year-old Giga Otkhozoria was killed on May 19, 2016 near a checkpoint in the Khurcha village of the Zugdidi district in the territory controlled by Tbilisi.
Abkhaz border guard Rashid Kanji-Ogly fired six bullets at him. The murder was captured on video camera. The footage shows Rashid Kanji-Ogly and Otkhozoria are arguing. A resident of Zugdidi, Otkhozoria was trying to send food to Gali and he was not allowed to do so. Following a verbal disagreement, the Abkhaz border guard left his post, went over to the Georgian side and shot Otkhozoria six times.
A Georgian court sentenced the killer to 14 years in prison.
The military prosecutor’s office of Abkhazia conducted an investigation, and the de facto court of Abkhazia sentenced Rashid Kanji-Ogly to house arrest for the duration of the investigation. However, on April 21, 2017, the case was closed. According to military prosecutor Sukhumi Adgun Agrba, no signs of a crime were revealed because the Georgian side did not provide the necessary materials.
Otkhozoria’s family and the ECHR
The Otkhozoria family has filed a lawsuit against the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The interests of the family are being represented by the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) and the European Center for the Protection of Human Rights.
The lawsuit claims that the Russian Federation violated the European Convention on two counts – the right to life (Article 2) and the right to legal defense (Article 13).
According to the plaintiff, all responsibility for the violation of human rights in occupied Abkhazia and the de facto actions of the authorities of Abkhazia lies with Russia, as the state that controls this territory.
The Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili list
In June 2018, the Georgian Parliament adopted the Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili List, a document similar to the Magnitsky List.
The purpose of this document is to provide sanction mechanisms against individuals who commit crimes against Georgian citizens in the occupied territories.
The list includes not only the killers of Otkhozoria and Tatunashvili, but also other persons involved in abductions, torture, murders and other serious crimes against Georgian citizens in the occupied territories. The document provides for a series of measures against such criminals, in particular,
1. Confiscation of property accessible by the Georgian side
2. They do not have the right to transfer property, carry out transactions in partner countries of Georgia
3. They will not be able to get visas for traveling to partner countries of Georgia
4. They will not be able to use the benefits established by the Georgian authorities for residents of the occupied territories. For example, medical services. (Since 2010, a project for the free treatment of patients from Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgian hospitals has been in operation).
The Georgian opposition claims that the authorities accepted the Otkhozoria-Tatunashvili List under pressure from the public, and have since done nothing to expand it, ‘as if crimes against Georgian citizens in the occupied territories have stopped.’
According to one of the leaders of the oppositional European Georgia party, Sergi Kapanadze, several more people, including Russian citizens, were involved in the same murder of Giga Otkhozoriy, but none of them were included in the list. Similarly, with the murder of Archil Tatunashvili, there are no Russian citizens on the list who manage Russian military bases deployed in Tskhinvali and Akhalgori and are actual accomplices of the crime against Tatunashvili.
European Georgia believes that the authorities do not even think about listing those guilty of, inter alia, the unlawful detention of a doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili, and a number of other offenses.