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Probe into Testimony of High-Profile Murder Witness Launched
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 12 Jul.'06 / 18:17

Prosecutors launched investigation into a testimony provided at the court hearings by Levan Bukhaidze, a key witness into the Sandro Girgvliani murder case, Chief of Tbilisi’s Prosecutor Office Giorgi Gviniashvili said on July 12.

Levan Bukhaidze was taken to outskirts of Tbilisi together with Sandro Girgvliani where they were beaten up by four officers from the Interior Ministry on January 28, 2006. As a result Girgvliani died, while his friend Bukhaidze could survive. During the investigation process Bukhaidze identified three suspects in a police line up, while expressed doubts about the forth suspect – Mikheil Bibiluridze. At the trial on July 6 Bukhaidze told the Tbilisi City Court that he could recall the fourth one and named Oleg Melnikov, a former police official. Although during the investigation process Bukhaidze failed to identify Melnikov in a police line up.

Attorney of Levan Bukhaidze said on July 12 that the Tbilisi Prosecutor’s Office plans to initiate criminal proceedings against Bukhaidze for providing false testimonies.

But Tbilisi chief prosecutor Giorgi Gviniashvili said that at first prosecutors should investigate whether the Bukhaidze’s recent testimony was true or not.

Bukhaidze was summoned for interrogation over his recent testimony by the Tbilisi Prosecutor’s Office on July 11.  
If the testimony by Bukhaidze is confirmed that Melnikov was at the crime scene on January 28, it will undermine entire official motives behind the crime, according to which the murder occured as a result of a spontaneous quarrel between the victim and four former police officials outside the café in downtown Tbilisi. If the prosecutors fail to prove Bukhaidze’s testimony about Melnikov, criminal proceedings will be initiated against Bukhaidze for providing false testimony.

But the relatives of Girgvliani, as well as some human rights groups and opposition parties claim that the incident was a result of a dispute between the victim and former top-level officials from the Interior Ministry who were inside the café. Melnikov left the café as soon as Girgvliani departed from there, which triggered doubts.


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