Giorgi Pakeliani, 29, an employee of the Mestia Division of the Border Police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, was killed on the night of January 1, in the village of Etseri, Mestia municipality, in Svaneti, as a result of a conflict between fellow villagers. 33-year-old Guram Afrasidze was also killed. Giorgi Pakeliani’s brother, 24-year-old Roland Pakeliani, was wounded. During the confrontation, the mother of the murdered Guram Afrasidze, Zemfira Afrasidze, was also injured, and is now in a coma in the Kutaisi clinic ICU. Her condition is serious.
Law enforcement officers arrested two persons – 23-year-old Giorgi Tsindeliani, an employee of the Mestia Division of the Border Police. He is charged with the intentional murder of Guram Afrasidze. The second arrested is the father of the murdered Guram Afrasidze, 70-year-old Roland Afrasidze. The prosecutor’s office accuses him of the intentional murder of Giorgi Pakeliani and intentional serious injury to the health of his brother, Roland Pakeliani.
According to the prosecutor’s office, border police officers Giorgi Tsindeliani and Giorgi Pakeliani had a physical confrontation with father and son Roland and Guram Afrasidze in the village of Etseri due to past disagreements.
According to the indictment, during the conflict, Tsindeliani shot Guram Afrasidze several times using a firearm. Afrasidze died as a result of the injuries he received. At the same time, Roland Afrasidze shot Giorgi Pakeliani and his brother, Roland Pakeliani, several times using the firearm he had with him, as a result of which Giorgi Pakeliani died on the spot, and Roland Pakeliani received life-threatening injuries.
The Zugdidi District Court sentenced both detainees to prison as a preventive measure. When asked by the judge whether he recognizes himself as guilty, Roland Afrasidze said that he had not done anything wrong. His lawyer, Revaz Mikaya, says that Roland Afrasidze did not have a firearm with him.
“My client says his son was beaten and his health was damaged. After some time, about two hours, the members of Pakeliani’s family came to the gate of his residence, shot off their guns and cursed, and the conflict arose from that. The evidence does not prove that Roland Afrasidze committed either intentional murder or serious injury to someone’s body,” the lawyer notes.
According to the lawyer of the second accused, Soso Janashia, Giorgi Tsindeliani witnessed the confrontation by chance. “It turns out that in the past there was some disagreement and controversy between the families of Pakeliani and Afrasidze. Tsindeliani witnessed this confrontation that day completely by chance, and his aim was to stop the participants in the fight. He did not know the Afrasidzes at all and, naturally, he would not have any confrontation with them. He did not touch a weapon. The basis for Tsindeliani’s arrest was the testimony of a witness from the Afrasidze family.”
Regarding the disagreement between the Afrasidzes and the Pakelians in the past – according to the residents of Etseri, Guram Afrasidze wanted to marry the sister of Giorgi and Roland Pakeliani, but they refused. In order to prevent the deepening of the conflict, members of the Pakeliani family, Giorgi and his sister, temporarily left Svaneti and moved to Kakheti, where Giorgi’s sister got married. A few years ago, the father, who came to visit his daughter from Svaneti, was hit by a bullet fired by his son-in-law’s relative and died. After that, the Pakeliani brothers returned to live in Svaneti.
As the locals say, on January 1, Giorgi Pakeliani was returning home from Nakri, where the N5 division of the Border Police is located, to Etseri. He was traveling with his employee, Giorgi Tsindeliani, in his own car. They stopped at the house of Afrasidze’s relative in Etseri, where they celebrated the New Year. While there, a confrontation took place between Giorgi Pakeliani and Guram Afrasidze. That same night, after a while, Guram Afrasidze and Giorgi Pakeliani met again and the fatal shooting took place.
According to locals, the families of Afrasidze and Pakeliani are related to each other.
If found guilty, Roland Afrasidze and Giorgi Tsindeliani face 10 to 15 years of imprisonment. The pre-trial session will be held on February 27.
This is not the first case of murder in Svaneti recently involving the participation of border police officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
On April 20, 2020, Besik Naveriani, a border guard of the 2nd division of Mulakhi border police, shot and killed 36-year-old Besik Ioseliani, an employee of the same division, due to a mutual dispute. Both of them were on duty and had firearms. Ioseliani was drunk. After the murder, Naveriani hid from the scene of the incident. The accused surrendered to the police a few days after the murder. The person who was killed and the person who committed the crime were friends and relatives.
On March 13, 2015, Kakha Margiani, employee of the Border Police Mestia Division, killed the former chief, Giorgi Ratiani – according to the prosecutor’s office, Giorgi Ratiani and Zaza Japaridze were guests at Kakha Margiani’s residence. Margiani had an argument with the guests, which soon turned into a fight. After the fight, Kakha Margiani, Giorgi Ratiani and Zaza Japaridze separated from each other. In a few minutes, Kakha Margiani armed himself with a firearm and fired in the direction of Giorgi Ratiani and Zaza Japaridze who were walking on Queen Tamar Street. Giorgi Ratiani died of his wounds on the spot, while Zaza Japaridze was wounded in the back.