Father of police shooting victim found dead at cemetery

Iuri Vazagashvili used to actively demand the his son's death to be investigated and the offenders to be punished. Photo by RL/RFE
Agenda.ge, 20 Jan 2015 - 19:31, Tbilisi,Georgia

The father of a man who was shot and killed by police has been found dead on his son's grave.

Iuri Vazagashvili, father of Zurab Vazagashvili, who was killed by police in controversial circumstances near the tennis courts in central Tbilisi in 2006, was found dead on his son’s grave today.

The father fell victim to an alleged bomb detonation while visiting his son’s grave in their native Karapila village in the Kaspi district (Shida Kartli region) earlier this afternoon.

Georgia's Prime Minister said he was "shocked" by the news that immediately became headlines on all local media.

Along with Sandro Girgvliani’s death case, Z. Vazagashvili’s murder was one of the most discussed and controversial cases during ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili’s term.

The case involving Z. Vazagashvili's death was declared closed in 2007 but the investigation restarted after the change of  government in 2012. At the time I. Vazagashvili, the father of the murdered man, actively demand the case to be investigated and offenders be rightfully punished.

Meanwhile, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia have launched an investigation into the unexplained death of I. Vazagashvili according to an Article of the Criminal Code of Georgia which implied premeditated murder with aggravating circumstances.

"The crime scene is being examined at the moment,” an Office representative said, adding they could not provide detailed information "due to investigation’s interests".

Prime Minister Irakli Garibahsvili, who is currently in Davos, Switzerland, attending the World Economic Forum, issued a statement that said he was "shocked” by the news.

"I want to offer my sincere condolences to the Vazagashvili family. This family has experiened another unimaginable tragedy,” Garibashvili said.

"I demand from the Chief Prosecutor’s Office to immediately investigate Iuri Vazagashvili’s case and finish its investigation into Zura[b] Vazagashvili’s death case.”
  • Z. Vazagashvili and Aleksandre Khubulov were shot killed by the police special purpose unit while the pair were driving in a car in central Tbilisi on May 2, 2006. 
  • Police claimed they responded with fire only after shots were fired from the men's vehicle. But families of the two killed young men and their lawyers challenged the official version. 
  • Authorities closed the investigation into allegations that police used excessive force for lack of evidence in April, 2007. 
  • After the change of government in 2012, Georgian Dream Coalition lawmakers said new evidence had emerged after the family of Vazagashvili and its lawyers obtained alternative ballistic examination results, reportedly showing that no shots were fired from inside the car.

Meanwhile, the Justice Minister of Georgia Thea Tsulukiani today said the Chief Prosecutor’s Office was on the right track regarding Z. Vazagahsvili’s case and the case could soon be solved.

She noted I. Vazagashvili’s case, too, needed to be immediately and openly investigated to "let justice be done”.

Meanwhile, Manana Vazagashvili, who is the sister of I. Vazagashvili, ruled out any possibility of suicide. She believed her brother was murdered.

"He was to visit the village cemetery, so it seems the people who had planned to kill him knew about this,” she said.

Local residents also said I. Vazagashvili used to frequently visit his son’s grave and bring flowers. They believed the grave was mined.

Vazagashvili's family lawyer Irma Chkadua said she believed I. Vazagashvili knew details about his son’s death, which was a motive for his killing.