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Key Witness in High-Profile Murder Case Gives New Testimony
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 5 Jul.'06 / 16:40

Levan Bukhaidze, who is a key witness into Sandro Girgvliani's murder case, said at the court hearing on July 5 that Mikheil Bibiluri, one out of the four suspects, who face murder charges, was not in the outskirts of Tbilisi, where Sandro Girgvliani was beaten to death. He said that instead of Bibiluri there was Oleg Melnikov, a former employee of the Department for Constitutional Security. 

“I am looking at the person [Mikheil Bibiluri], who is now sitting in the [courtroom’s] cell and who is among four suspects [into the murder case] and I can say for sure that I have not seen him there [at the crime scene],” Bukhaidze said.

“Today I can say for sure before the court: I recollected the fourth person in Okrokana [outskirts of Tbilisi, where Sandro Girgvliani’s dead body was found] and I can say for sure, that it was Oleg Melnikov,” Bukhaidze added.

On February 28 – a month after the crime occurred - parliamentarian from the opposition Conservative Party Zviad Dzidziguri showed journalists footage of an interview with Bukhaidze. In this interview MP Dzidziguri shows Bukhaidze a picture of a man and asks Bukhaidze to identify this man. Bukhaidze replies that the man in the picture “looks very much like” one of the four men who beat the two friends. “But I am not 100% sure,” he added. Oleg Melnikov was the man in the picture.

In March, when four suspects were arrested, Levan Bukhaidze failed to identify Oleg Melnikov among four persons in a police lineup. But later he told Imedi television that his failure to identify Melnikov does not mean that the latter was not among those four persons who beat him and his friend Sandro Girgvliani, who eventually died.

On July 5 prosecutors accused key suspect into the case Gia Alania, former chief of the first unit of the Interior Ministry’s Department for Constitutional Security, of deliberately inflicting injuries to Girgvliani, which resulted into the latter’s death and demanded nine-year imprisonment for him. Prosecutors demanded eight-year imprisonment for each of other three suspects.

Tbilisi City Court is expected to announce verdict on July 6.

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