Breakaway S.Ossetia Asks More Time for Transfer of Deceased Georgian

The self-proclaimed president of Georgia’s Russian-backed breakaway South Ossetia region, Anatoly Bibilov, says they need more time to transfer the body of deceased Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili to the Georgian side.

The puppet regime has been refusing to hand Tatunashvili’s body over to Georgia since February 23, when the man died in custody in a Tskhinvali detention facility in unclear circumstances.

Bibilov’s statement was released by de facto South Ossetian news agency PEC, which says that he believes Tatunashvili’s body should be returned to his family.

"We need to conduct a forensic medical examination of the body, as is done in Europe and America, which can takes up to one month even in Georgia. Nobody says that Tatunashvili's body should not be handed over,” PEC quoted Bibilov.

The de facto president also added that the examination of the body is necessary because Tatunashvili’s case is too “politicized” by the Georgian side.

“We are afraid that on handing over the body without forensic expertise, we will get even more negative feedback than now. Give us the opportunity to do everything according to the law," Bibilov said.

The statements of de facto leader were followed by negative reactions in Tbilisi.

Giorgi Kandelaki, member of the parliamentary opposition European Georgia, believes that the statement of the de facto president is cynicism, which should be confronted by a firm position from the government.

Kandelaki believes Georgia should adopt a package of sanctions that will become one of the deterrent factors in future to prevent such incidents as this.

“Bibilov’s statement is an insult to the family of Tatunashvili and our entire country. In order to prevent such crimes in the future, our main task is to take specific steps and impose a package of sanctions against the people who are indirectly or directly connected to this case,” he stated.

Member of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Mamuka Mdinaradze, also says the de facto leader’s statement is unacceptable.

“His comments contradict all international norms and standards. Despite the statements of the occupational regime, the Georgian side will do its best to get Tatunashvili’s body transferred as soon as possible,” Mdinaradze said.

The de facto Ministry of Foreign Affairs of breakaway South Ossetia published a statement about the death of Archil Tatunashvili on March 1, saying he had been intercepted “carrying out intelligence-sabotage activities and was guilty for the murder of civilians in August 2008.”

The so-called ministry went on to say that Tatunashvili had been detained in Leningori (Akhalgori) on February 22, by breakaway South Ossetian “law enforcers.” The statement reads that during his transfer to a detention cell, Tatunashvili fought back and sustained injuries, was knocked down and fell down stairs.

Before that, the puppet regime spread information that the Georgian man had died of “heart failure.”

The Office of Georgia’s Public Defender stated they have information that Tatunashvili died before he was taken to hospital, adding that he seemed to have been beaten, according to his injuries.

Thea Morrison

08 March 2018 15:37