Tbilisi adolescent murder case comes to defining moment
The participant of a fight that broke out in downtown Tbilisi on Khorava Street on 1 December 2017 that resulted in the death of two adolescents, Mikheil Kalandia, has been detained on charges of murder.
He has been involved in the case since the beginning as a witness, but now he has been accused of “group homicide under aggravating circumstances.”
This is a turning point in the trial, as thousands of people who have participated in protest demonstrations, in addition to NGOs, say that the case has not been fairly investigated.
A Ministry of Internal Affairs employee said at an official briefing that the investigation is ‘actively looking into the possible participation of Kalandia in the murder.’ He said that the “decision of the court of appeals, dated 3 June, once again confirms the legitimacy of the direction of the investigation [including the participation of MIkhail Kalandia in the crime.”
The murder and public reaction
When it took place in December 2017, the murder which took place in broad daylight shook the Georgian public. It took place in front of a number of witnesses.
Two groups of teenagers decided to have it out in a courtyard on Khorava Street by their school.
The conflict turned into a fight, during which two teenagers sustained heavy knife injuries. One of them died on the spot, while the other was taken to a hospital where he had several operations performed, however he passed away on 2 December.
Employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs detained two in the murder.
The trial of the murder case on Khorav Street lasted 4 months and ended on May 30, 2018.
The Tbilisi City Court found one of the defendants guilty of the murder of Levan Dadunashvili, and partially acquitted the suspect in the murder of David Saralidze.
Another defendant was found guilty, but not of premeditated murder, but only in an attempt to commit a murder.
As a result, it turned out that six months after the killing of the teenagers, Daivd Saralidze’s murderer was not identified.
After the court decision, the father of the murdered David Saralidze, Zaza Saralidze, called on the public to protest. The call was heard and thousands of people took to the streets of Tbilisi and protested for several weeks.
After the verdict of the city court, the main prosecutor of Georgia, Irakli Shotadze, resigned.
During the same time, high-ranking prosecution officer Mirza Subeliani, the father of one of the participants in the fight and the uncle of the other, Mikhail Kalandia, was arrested.
The father of the murdered teenager accused Mirza Subeliani of covering up for the suspect. On May 31, 2018, Mirza Subeliani was sentenced to imprisonment for 1 year and 1 month for concealing the details of the crime.
Court of Appeal verdict
On July 3, the Court of Appeal reviewed the case of the murder of adolescents and sentenced the accused in the murder of GD. and gb by 11 years and 3 months of imprisonment each. The decision of the court states that each of them participated in a group murder in collusion with another, unidentified person.
The father of the murdered Zaza Saralidze expressed satisfaction with the court decision, but stressed that he would continue the struggle for full justice.
“For the first time, I had a feeling that justice would be restored. While it is partially restored. I will continue to fight to the end, ”Saralidze said.
At the request of the opposition, a temporary parliamentary commission was established to investigate the circumstances of the killing on Khorava Street in June 2018. The commission examined the case file and interviewed the investigators who worked on it. According to the conclusion of the commission made public in September, the investigation was conducted with violations and tendentiously.
In one of the recommendations of the commission it was said about the need to initiate a criminal case against Mikhail Kalandia, whose participation in the crime stemmed from the testimony of several witnesses.
The majority of members of the parliamentary commission are members of the opposition party “European Georgia”. Representatives of the majority, who also worked in the commission, expressed disagreement with the drafted document and prepared their opinion, according to which the revealed violations during the investigation allegedly did not affect the process of investigation of the case.
The chairman of the temporary commission, Sergi Kapanadze, after the arrest of Mikhail Kalandia, said that the commission had long demanded that this be done, but the Ministry of the Interior disregarded the opinion of the deputies.
“In order for justice to triumph in this matter, it is important that all our other recommendations be implemented, especially regarding the responsibility of people working in the prosecutor’s office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who deliberately confused and falsified this matter,” said Kapanadze.
According to him, the commission named the names of 10 people who participated in the falsification of the case, in respect of which it is worth raising the question of their responsibility.