Nine including Tbilisi city hall official arrested for electrocution incident that killed minor

The suspects have been charged with violation of safety regulations, professional neglect, incitement to forgery, forgery of official documents and use of forged documentation. Photo: 1TV, 18 Oct 2022 - 19:37, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian law enforcement on Tuesday arrested nine individuals, including the deputy head of Tbilisi city hall’s environmental protection service, following its investigation into the deadly electrocution incident in the city’s central Vake Park last week that claimed the life of one minor and injured two others.

The ministry said the head of the contractor company that worked on the renovation work of the fountain of the recreational area since last year, employees and representatives of a subcontractor firm, and two welders had been arrested on various charges related to the incident that took place in the newly renovated fountain of the park.

They have been charged with violation of safety regulations, professional neglect, incitement to forgery, forgery of official documents and use of forged documentation.

In comments explaining the developments that led to the incident, the ministry said the environmental protection department of Tbilisi city hall had signed the agreement with Green Service+ company on the renovation of the fountain and its cascade in the Park last October, adding the formal act for handover of the completed renovation had taken place in August this year.

Three minors were electrocuted in the fountain last week, with one minor killed. 

The state body explained the deputy head of the municipal environmental protection service had later requested the contractor firm to wrap black water pipes coming out of an electric motor in the fountain with a stainless white construction, despite the already completed status of works in the central fountain.

The latter instructed its subcontractor New Metal Design to carry out the work, for which the subcontractor hired two private welders, with supervision expected to have been ensured by a Green Service+ employee. 

On September 22, the welders violated safety regulations during the work, the ministry said, which led to damage to an electric wire. The director of the contractor firm presented the completed work to Tbilisi city hall “without conducting an appropriate inspection”, with the deputy head of the latter body’s environmental protection service also accepting the work “without appropriate review”. 

The ministry also said the representatives of the subcontractor company had not checked the work performed by the welders, while the manager of Green Service+ had not provided appropriate control over it.

If the persons in question had performed their duties properly, the damage to the electric wire would have been detected and the [fatal] consequences would have been prevented”, the body said.

The investigation also revealed Green Service+ had signed an agreement with Mshenexpert company in a bid to prepare a mandatory report for the handover act with Tbilisi city hall’s environmental protection service.

Tbilisi mayor Kakha Kaladze said he was "devastated" by the tragedy, stating that he was ready to take responsibility if any of his fault revealed. Photo: Tbilisi city hall press office. 

Had the document been drawn up, its relevant conclusion would have been “undesirable” for Green Service+, the ministry said, and would have led to Tbilisi city hall not accepting the work. The circumstance saw the employee of the company “persuading” the director and inspector of Mshenexpert to provide a “fake” conclusion on the work “in exchange for the continuation of future business relations”, paving the way for the compiling of the document that said the work had been performed in accordance with construction regulations.

This false conclusion became the basis for signing the act of acceptance and handover between the contractor and Tbilisi city hall service”, the ministry concluded, adding the investigation had reached its conclusions following interviews with a number of individuals in “round the clock” activities following the incident.

It also added the ongoing inquiry into the incident had also involved a forensic trasological examination, which studies marks left on bodies or mechanisms following an incident.

The incident took place last Thursday, when three minors were electrocuted in the newly renovated fountain in the popular park after one of them attempted to retrieve a ball that had fallen into the water.

A 13-year-old girl was taken out of the water before being pronounced dead from injuries sustained in the incident, with a 13-year-old boy currently undergoing hospital treatment after being stabilised from his critical condition. The third child remains under care with minor injuries.