Court verdict stirs controversy on high profile murder case of teenagers

Two 16-year-old boys were killed during a clash between schoolchildren on December 1, last year. About 20 minors participated in the brawl. Photo:, 31 May 2018 - 16:18, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Tbilisi City Court verdict on the high profile murder case of two teenagers in central Tbilisi last year has caused controversy as the court verdict failed to say who killed one teenage boy. After the verdict was announced hundreds of people gathered in front of Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s office, demanding fair investigation. 

The court found guilty both teenagers detained for the murder. 

One of the detainees G.B. was found guilty for the premeditated murder of Levan Dadunashvili, while another detainee G.J. was found guilty for attempted murder of David Saralidze. 

The verdict could not identify the actual killer of 16-year-old David Saralidze, who suffered from multiple knife wounds in his back and died in hospital after several days from the fatal incident. 

The court will announce the final sentence tomorrow. 

Zaza Saralidze says the killer of his son still walks free. Photo: 1TV. 

What do the victims’ families say?

The lawyer of Dadunashvili’s family says that the family is happy with the verdict, but Zaza Saralidze, father of murdered David Saralidze is demanding an answer from the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to the question of who killed his son. 

The court verdict has proved what I have been saying  for months- there are some other offenders who still walk free,” Saralidze said. 

Saralidze, who has organized two large-scale rallies in Tbilisi in April and May with the demand for a fair investigation, claims that the case prosecutors were involved in the destruction of vital evidence of the case. 

Saralidze says that the reason of the prosecutors’ action was that a father of one of the teenage boys, who participated in the clash, had served in the Human Resources Department of the Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office. 

The boy changed his evidence five times. Despite the fact the man, Mirza Subeliani, quit his post in the Prosecutor’s Office shortly after the incident I have information that he has done his utmost to create obstacles for a fair investigation,” Saralidze said. 

After he heard the court verdict, Saralidze and his supporters went to the building of Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to demand the resignation of Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze. 

Chief Prosecutor invites foreign prosecutors 

At a special briefing after the verdict Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze said that the verdict was "very obscure” and he "categorically disapproved of it.” 

The verdict will be appealed,” Shotadze said and added that his office has presented all the evidence pointing to the guilt of the two minors charged. 

Shotadze said that his office has conducted a "very transparent investigation” and the prosecutors were in constant contact with the families of the victims. 

I am ready to take responsibility for the actions of any prosecutor,” Shotadze said. 

He stated that to remove all the questions over the case his office will invite foreign prosecutors who will be involved in the case investigation process. 

Shotadze said that the examination of the evidence gathered was conducted in Georgia and Switzerland. 

We will re-send the evidence for study to Switzerland,” Shotadze said. 

Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze held a special briefing after the court verdict was announced. Photo: Chief Prosecutor's press office. 

Parliament creates commission on the case 

The Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze said that a special commission will be created in parliament which will investigate the case as establishing the truth on the case is "of the highest importance of the Georgian ruling team.” 

The verdict raised questions which must be answered,” Kobakhidze said. 

Opposition and Public Defender 

Members of the parliamentary United National Movement and the European Georgia opposition have accused the Prosecutor’s Office of "biased investigation” and demanded the resignation of Shotadze. 

The Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria stated that the court verdict revealed alleged offenders could be free and urged the Prosecutor’s Office to take "immediate measures” to identify them. 

What happened? 

  • Two 16-year-old boys were stabbed to death in a school brawl in Tbilisi on December 1, 2017. 
  • The Prosecutor’s Office charged two teenagers with ‘premeditated murder of an underage person’, and three others for not reporting the crime. 
  • Davit Saralidze died in hospital due to multiple wounds in his back, while Levan Dadunashvili died immediately. 
  • One of the charged teenagers was detained on December 2, while the other one, who had gone into hiding, surrendered on December 4. 
  • On December 3, the Prosecutor’s Office admitted that the father of one of the students involved in the fight was employed by the Prosecutor’s Office.
  • They said the man, Mirza Subeliani, had worked in the Department of Human Resources since 2014. 
  • Subeliani resigned on the next day. 
  • The Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia said that the case had around 150 witnesses but only several of them cooperated with law enforcers.