Georgian courts should shed light on the high-profile murder case of Sandro Girgvliani “in a way expected by society,” Parliamentary Chairperson Nino Burjanadze said on February 13.
The remarks by the Parliamentary Chairperson come as a surprise. Up until now, officials and key figures from the ruling National Movement Party have been adhering to an official version of the murder case that denies allegations that some former high-level Interior Ministry officials were involved. But the official version has been questioned by human rights groups, the Georgian Public Defender’s Office and opposition parties.
“It is of principled importance for us that the trial ends once and forever in a way that society expects it to be finished and the truth is revealed about this tragedy,” Nino Burjanadze said at a session of the Parliament on February 13.
Her remarks came after opposition lawmaker from the New Rights Party Pikria Chikhradze requested parliamentarians to observe a minute of silence in honor of Sandro Girgvliani, who would have turned 30 on February 13.
Sandro Girgvliani’s murder case is now being appealed in the Georgian Supreme Court, but no trial date has been announced yet.
On December 11 the Court of Appeals upheld the 8 and 7-year prison sentences imposed on Gia Alania and three other former police officers, respectively, by a lower court for inflicting injuries that resulted in Girgvliani’s death in February 2006.
In July 2006 the Tbilisi City Court found Gia Alania, ex-chief of the first unit of the Interior Ministry’s Department for Constitutional Security (DCS), guilty and sentenced him to an eight-year prison term. Three other officers from the same department were jailed for seven years each.
But the case went into the upper court because prosecutors wanted to increase the sentences by one year, while defense lawyers were seeking the ex-police officers’ release. The lawyer of the Girgvliani family, which is represented in the trial as a separate side, used the court hearings to confirm their allegations about the involvement of other former high-level Interior Ministry officials in the high-profile murder case.
But during the trial on December 8, a judge from the Court of Appeals threw out the attempt by the Girgvliani family’s lawyer Shalva Shavgulidze to convince the court to consider some evidence that, according to Shavgulidze, was ignored during the City Court trial.
Shavgulidze said the City Court and the Court of Appeals have both refused to study additional evidence that could have revealed the involvement of other former officials.
Data Akhalaia, ex-chief of the DCS, Vasil Sanodze, ex-chief of the general inspection of the Interior Ministry (both were suspended from office as a result of public pressure in March), as well as Guram Donadze, who resigned from the Interior Ministry spokesman’s position in March, and the Interior Minister’s wife Tako Salakaia are believed to be key figures in the murder case, according to the Girgvliani family's lawyer.
The lawyer alleges that these people, or at least one of them, commissioned Gia Alania “to punish” Girgvliani after the later argued with them in a cafe in downtown Tbilisi.