The Georgian Public Defender’s Office (PDO) has called on the authorities to carry out “comprehensive and impartial” investigation into the death of a man in a police station in the town of Khashuri.
According to the official police version Solomon (Soso) Kimeridze, a resident of the village of Kvishkheti in Khashuri district in central Georgia, was taken to the police station on February 27 in connection to a robbery case where he sustained multiple injuries after he “fell over the handrail into a foyer of the police station’s first floor” when going downstairs from the third floor of the building. He died after being hospitalized, according to the Interior Ministry. The version has been questioned by Kimeridze’s family and some opposition figures who suspect a foul play.
Citing the European Court of Human Rights' rulings, the Georgian Public Defender’s Office said on March 1 that when death occurs in police custody, strong presumptions of fact will arise in respect of injuries and death occurring during that detention and there is a heightened burden on the authorities to provide a satisfactory explanation about the cause of death.
“We appeal to the relevant authorities in charge of investigation to carry out full, comprehensive and impartial investigation in order to establish the cause of Kimeridze’s death, as well as to find out whether or not he was subjected to inhuman treatment before the death,” the PDO said.
It also said that a deputy head of the Khashuri police testified before PDO’s representative and according to his account while going downstairs, Kimeridze was accompanied by one local police officer who was going in front of Kimeridze and neither he nor anyone else in the building saw the very moment when Kimeridze fell over the handrail.
“However, it has been alleged [by local policemen], that Kimeridze perhaps lost balance and fell over the handrail because of height and his weight,” PDO said.
The PDO also called on the prosecutor’s office, which is investigating the case, to pay attention to the fact that although Kimeridze was taken to the police station, he was neither formally accused, nor registered as a detainee in the records of the local police.