Strasbourg Court: Georgia Must Pay Vazagashvili's Family EUR 50,000

"The Strasbourg Court ordered the Georgian state to pay EUR 50 thousand euros to the family of Zurab Vazagashvili, who was killed in a special operation in 2006," Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani stated at a special briefing.

"Today, the judgment in the case of Vazagashvili and Shanava v. Georgia has been published, which concerns the right to life. The state has been fully defeated in the case both in terms of the murder and the delay in the case. The state was ordered to pay 50 thousand Euros as compensation," Tsulukiani said.

The case of Vazagashvili and Shanava v. Georgia

In today’s Chamber judgment 1 in the case of Vazagashvili and Shanava v. Georgia the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

A violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights under both its procedural and substantive limbs. The case concerned the shooting of the applicants’ son in a police operation and their complaint of the lack of an effective investigation. The Court found in particular that a first investigation into the killing had been flawed as it had been carried out by the police officers involved in the shooting.

The second investigation, which had led to convictions, had only taken place several years after the crime and had been based to some extent on investigative work carried out by the first applicant himself. The Court particularly noted the fact that the first applicant’s efforts to disclose police crime and corruption had ultimately led to him being murdered by a police officer, highlighting the consequence of the authorities’ lack of diligence in pursuing the perpetrators of the original murder.

The applicants, Yuri Vazagashvili and Tsiala Shanava, Georgian nationals, were both born in 1953. Mr Vazagashvili was murdered in 2015. Ms Shanava lives in Tbilisi and has continued the application in her own name and that of her late husband.

The applicants’ son, Z.V., 22 at the time, and his friend, A.Kh., 25, were shot by police while Z.V. was driving his car in May 2006. The police operation involved at least 50 officers, including senior officials from the criminal police unit of the Ministry of the Interior and masked officers of a riot police unit. They were armed with machine guns and they shot more than 70 bullets at Z.V.’s car, with some 40 bullets hitting their target. Another man, B.P., 22, was seriously injured but survived. The police initially stated that Z.V. and his friends had been intercepted on their way to carry out a robbery but an investigation into excessive use of force was opened three days after the incident.

The applicants complained regularly to the Tbilisi city prosecutor that the investigation was not being conducted thoroughly and impartially.

In January 2015 the first applicant, Yuri Vazagashvili was killed in an explosion caused by an improvised device planted at his son’s grave, which he was visiting at the time. In November 2015 the Tbilisi City Court convicted a policeman, G.S., of the crime. The court established that the first applicant’s nongovernmental organization, Save a Life, formed to highlight police criminality, had published an article in a national newspaper with a list of officers believed to have been implicated in various offences. G.S. had figured at the end of the list.

By Ana Dumbadze 

18 July 2019 14:55