Failure of the Abkhaz side to prosecute a man, who killed a local Georgian citizen Giga Otkhozoria close to the crossing point with the breakaway region, makes it “increasingly difficult” to continue meetings in frames of the Incident Prevention and response Mechanism, complicates the Geneva talks and undermines confidence building efforts, Georgian PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili said.
Giga Otkhozoria was shot several times at point-blank range allegedly by an Abkhaz border guard serviceman on the Georgian-controlled area close to the Khurcha-Nabakevi crossing point on May 19. The fatal shooting was captured on CCTV camera and the footage was then showed by the Georgian television stations.
The issue was the main topic of discussion when the Georgian and Abkhaz side, as well representatives of the Russian troops on the ground met for the first time in four years in frames of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) in Gali on May 27.
The Abkhaz side said that it filed criminal charges against its border guard serviceman suspected of shooting Otkhozoria; the suspect, however, has not been detained.
In a televised statement on June 6, PM Kvirikashvili said that failure to bring perpetrator to justice will “reopen wounds”, which, he said, is only in the interests of “enemies of the Georgian and Abkhaz people.”
“More than two weeks have passed since the vicious crime that appalled all of us. Unfortunately, till this very moment we have not received any information about the arrest of the murderer of Giga Otkhozoria,” the Georgian PM said.
“It is extremely alarming that this tragic fact has undermined the positive results achieved in respect of confidence building. Moreover, it is getting increasing difficult to continue meetings of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism in this condition. This case is also makes dialogue in frames of the Geneva discussions significantly difficult as long as de factor Abkhaz authorities show inaction in arresting murderer of Giga Otkhozoria,” he said.
“At the recent meeting of the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism – resumption of which took a lot of effort – our representatives handed all the materials [of the investigation] over to the participants, but regrettably the result has not been attained yet,” PM Kvirikashvili said.
“In a given situation there is a risk that someone may settle scores with the murderer. Moreover, it might be done by the party, which is directly interested in the disruption of the confidence building process,” he said.
“We believe that much is at stake. The risk is too big. The sole rational and right action is to immediately arrest the murderer even within the frames of unilateral tools employed by de facto Abkhaz authorities that we do not recognize.”
“Of course at the Gali [meeting of the IPRM] we have demanded immediate hand over of the perpetrator, but representatives of de facto Abkhaz authorities immediately linked this issue to the question of their status and referred to the nonexistence of the relevant legislative framework,” Kvirikashvili said, referring to Sokhumi’s argument that no “extradition” is impossible as there are no relevant agreements between Tbilisi and Sokhumi.
“Due to the urgency of the matter we consider the immediate arrest of the criminal to be critically important. The confidence between the Georgians and the Abkhazians should be restored.”
“But leaving perpetrator of such a cruel crime unpunished will only reopen wounds, which is only in the interests of enemies of the Georgian and Abkhaz people. Therefore, we need a cool-headed approach to overcome this deadlock situation with joint efforts,” the Georgian PM said.