PM, Gov't officials attend Vazagashvili’s funeral

PM Garibashvili paied tribute to Iuri Vazagashvili's memory. Photo by PM's press office., 25 Jan 2015 - 15:40, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia's Prime Minister, Cabinet and Parliament Members attended the funeral of Iuri Vazagashvili - the man who was killed by an explosion last week while he visited his son's grave.

Vazagashvili’s funeral was held in Karapila village in the Kaspi district of Georgia’s Shida Kartli region today.

Vazagashvili was the father of Zurab Vazagashvili, who was killed by police in 2006 in controversial circumstances in central Tbilisi. The elder Vazagashvili was killed by an explosion on January 20, 2015, when he visited the grave of his son.

Georgia’s Interior Minister Aleksandre Tchikaidze left his post following the death of I. Vazagashvili, saying there were false accusations towards him regarding the man's death and he would not have resigned if the the investigation into his death would be solved in the days after the crime.

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia launched an investigation into the death of father I. Vazagashvili according to Article 109 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which implied premeditated murder with aggravating circumstances.

Meanwhile, an investigation into son Z. Vazagashvili’s death is ongoing.

I. Vazagashvili’s body was buried next to his son’s grave earlier this afternoon. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Deputy PM and Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze, Defence Minister Mindia Janelidze, Minister of Refugees Sozar Subari, State Minister of Reconciliation Paata Zakareishvili, Corrections Minister Giorgi Mghebrishvili and other politicians, lawmakers and public activists.

The PM did not make any comment for the media today, but yesterday said the investigation into Z. Vazagashvili’s murder would be solved "very soon”.

‘’I want to tell everyone that this case will be investigated very soon. I mean Zura Vazagashvili’s murder. Nothing will stop this process. The truth will be established,” the PM said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued a statement saying the prosecutors who were actively involved in the initial investigation of the death of Z. Vazagashvili in 2006 no longer worked at the Prosecutor’s Office.

"Once questions emerged in society, some of the employees who were involved in this criminal case to some extent, addressed the Chief Prosecutor with personal statements and requested removal from their offices until the completion of the investigation. The Chief Prosecutor has granted their applications and they were dismissed from the Prosecutor’s Office,” the Office said.

"We would like to emphasize the fact that those prosecutors had no connection with the renewed investigation, since the investigation into the so-called "Courts” special operation case is being conducted by an investigative group specifically created for this case. We can say categorically that the renewed investigation into the death of Z. Vazagashvili is being conducted by a group of prosecutors and investigators who are in no way connected with the initial investigation, therefore they are absolutely objective and impartial.”

  • Z. Vazagashvili and Aleksandre Khubulov were shot and 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.
  • A renewed investigation started in 2012.

Meanwhile, Vazagashvili’s family members and lawyers said father I. Vazagashvili had new and "important details” regarding his son’s murder and this was the reason why the father was also murdered.

Georgian officials said both of these cases were a challenge for the country's judicial system and they needed to be solved and offenders needed to be punished "as soon as possible”.