The latest IPRM meeting on the Tatunashvili case has ended without results " />

South Ossetia refuses to hand over Tatunashvili’s organs

The latest IPRM meeting on the Tatunashvili case has ended without results

Photo: Yustina Melnikevich, Ergneti 2013. Source: eurasianet.org 

The 86th meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) took place in Ergneti after an almost two-month pause.

An almost 10-hour-long IPRM meeting took place on 22 February regarding the death of Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili while in police custody in South Ossetia.

Tatunashvili’s body was handed over to Tbilisi on 20 March, almost a month after his death. JAMnews released an exclusive report that the body had been transferred to Georgian authorities without internal organs, including the heart and brain.

This fact made it difficult to conduct a complete autopsy which would have ascertained the reason for Tatunashvili’s death, and the autopsy office in Georgia has yet to come up with a concrete answer.

During the 86th meeting in Ergneti the Georgian side demanded that Tatunashvili’s organs be handed over. Tbilisi believes that Tatunashvili died from violence inflicted against him. Georgian experts who were able to examine his remains claimed that his body showed signs of abuse.

Tskhinvali continues to claim that Tatunashvili died as a result of heart failure. However, without the heart it is impossible to tell whether this is true or not. The fact that Tskhinvali transferred the body without its heart only further confirms Tbilisi’s suspicions that Tatunashvili died of violence inflicted against him

Commentary: Is the Georgian who died in South-Ossetian custody a saboteur or victim?

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The Ministry of Justice of Georgia has lodged a complaint in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The ministry is also preparing an international lawsuit. Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani stated that her office had started work on the case even before Tatunashivli’s body was received by Tbilisi.

Archil Tatunashvili was detained on 22 February in Dana Akhalgori. Tskhinvali said he was arrested for participating in the 2008 August war, but Tatunashvili was serving on a peace mission in Iraq at the time.

The next day, a statement was released saying that Tatunashvili had tried to resist prison guards, which resulted in a fight breaking out and Tatunashvili falling down a flight of stairs. He was transported to hospital where he died of heart failure.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported that Tskhinvali’s representative at the meeting in Ergneti, Murat Djioev, stated that Tatunashvili was more interesting to South Ossetia alive: “…because there were questions for him which now, unfortunately, we cannot ask … for that reason, the assertion of the Georgian side that Tatunashvili was [purposefully] killed in Tskhinvali are unfounded,” Djioev said.

As for the question of why Tatunashivli’s body was transferred to Georgian authorities without organs: “Medical experts have their rules. They know better than me what to do and how to transfer the body,” RFE/RL cited Djioev as saying.

Tatunashvili was detained along with two other Georgian citizens, Levan Kutashvili and Ioseb Pavliashvili, on 22 February by the de-facto authorities of South Ossetia. Tatunashvili died the following day. 

Neither Tbilisi nor Tatunashvili’s family believe the versions of events put forward by the de-facto Tskhinvali authorities.

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