"If you’ve sold your crops and have some money on you, you’d better stay awake.’ Gali residents live in constant fear of robberies
A couple was murdered in Sida, a village in Abkhazia’s Georgian-populated Gali District, adding to what locals say is an increasing rate of violent crimes in the area.
Gia Tsurtsumia and his wife Sopo were shot dead in their courtyard yesterday, 9 April. The shooter’s identity may already be known, as Gia Tsurtsumia is said to have revealed their name to a relative of his just moments before he died.
The killer’s motive remains unclear, though extortion is being looked into as a possible reason.
A local resident who wanted his name unpublished told JAMnews the couple had had an argument over money with someone at a local market shortly before they were killed. But it remains to be seen whether there are any links between the two incidents.
“Nobody knows what happened for sure, and everybody has a different story to tell,” the local said. “I don’t know if it was a killing following an argument or a robbery gone astray.”
“People get robbed here regularly, especially during the hazelnut harvest season. Once the word gets out that you’ve sold your crops and have some money on you, you’d better stay awake and keep your eyes peeled for robbers.”
“Four years ago, I sold my car. I got robbed the very same night. They even knew exactly how much money I had on me. And the police does nothing to stop this.”
The Abkhaz police are on the murder scene, and an arrest warrant for the suspect has been issued.
The last five years have seen a spat of violent robberies in the Gali District, and not all of them made it into media. Some of those that did are:
- In September 2013, five masked men assaulted a family in the village of Gagida, killing one person.
- In December 2014, an assault robbery took the life of a 55-year-old resident of the village of Mukhuri.
- In December 2014, another robbery ended with a murder, when a member of the targeted family in the Otobaia village was fatally shot in the head after he had tried to resist the assailants and even torn the mask off the face of one of them.
- In October 2015, an attack left a family in Repi robbed of 80,000 rubles and of the life of a dear one. Shortly before that, the family had sold their hazelnut crop.
- In September 2016, robbers took away the entire hazelnut crop – a ton and a half – belonging to a resident of the village of Chuburkhinji.