Two former Georgian security officials have been detained on terrorism charges in connection to shooting and grenade attack incident that took place in the village of Khurcha on the Abkhaz administrative boundary line on May 21, 2008 – the day when parliamentary elections were held in Georgia, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.
On that day locals, among them residents from Gali district of breakaway Abkhazia, were gathered on a football field in the village of Khurcha, preparing for being transported with two buses to Zugdidi to cast ballot in the parliamentary elections; but people fled in panic after gunfire erupted; after that two empty buses were hit by rocket-propelled grenades. Three persons were injured, one of them severely.
Immediately after the incident the Georgian authorities blamed the Abkhaz side, but an investigative documentary month later suggested that the attack was staged by the Georgian side – the allegation which was further strengthened by UN probe.
Although UN report did not directly point the finger at the Georgian authorities and it found no hard evidence regarding the identity of the perpetrators, it too cast doubt over the Georgian version of the incident, which was claimed at the time by then Georgian authorities.
More than five years after that incident and year after the change of government in Georgia, the Georgian Interior Ministry blamed on October 22 two of its former employees for being perpetrators who allegedly hit the buses with rocket-propelled grenades.
The Interior Ministry said that former head of the Department of Constitutional Security of the Abkhaz Autonomous Republic within the Georgian Interior Ministry, Roman Shamatava, and ministry’s former employee from the special task unit in Samegrelo region, Malkhaz Murgulia, were arrested on terrorism charges.
It said that the two men “together with other” unspecified “high-ranking Interior Ministry officials organized and carried out the terrorist act with the purpose of terrorizing peaceful population.”
“Investigation is ongoing to find out others involved in the incidents as well as to identify those who have ordered this crime,” Interior Ministry’s spokesperson, Nino Giorgobiani, said.
Investigation is ongoing under the terrorism section of the criminal code, carrying imprisonment from fifteen to twenty years or for life, she said.