A forensic pathologist, who carried out post-mortem examination of Zurab Zhvania hours after the late PM was found dead on February 3, 2005, was arrested, Georgian prosecutor’s office said.
Levan Chachua, who was a head of forensic medical unit at the National Forensics Bureau, was arrested on charges related to neglect of official duty while performing autopsy on late prime minister, prosecutor’s office said in a statement released just after midnight on Friday.
The arrest comes a day after leaked photos of what appears to be taken during a post-mortem examination of Zhvania’s body emerged on March 19. Photos purportedly show bodily injuries, which the prosecutor’s office says, were sustained before the death. Photos were part of investigative files for years already and were available for prosecutors even before they were leaked.
In February, 2005 official investigation attributed death of Zurab Zhvania to carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty gas heater. According to this version the heater was improperly installed in the apartment where Zhvania's body was reportedly found in early hours of February 3, 2005 in the Saburtalo district of Tbilisi. Along with Zhvania, deputy governor of Kvemo Kartli region Raul Usupov was also found dead in the same apartment, allegedly also killed by carbon monoxide poisoning. The investigation into the case was resumed in late 2012 after the Georgian Dream coalition came into power.
“Investigation has established that Levan Chachua showed neglect and performed his official duty improperly while carrying out post-mortem examination into the case of death of former Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and Raul Usupov,” prosecutor’s office said in its statement. “Even though corpses evidently had bodily injuries sustained before the death, he did not record comprehensively those existing injuries.”
“As the validity of conclusions of that examination came under suspicion, carrying out new examination is necessary in order to establish real causes and circumstances of death of Zurab Zhvania and Raul Usupov,” prosecutor’s office said.
In a statement on March 20 the prosecutor’s office said that there is a need for exhumation of bodies of Zhvania and Usupov because examinations carried out immediately after their death were inconclusive. It said that prosecutor’s office has been in talks with “authoritative” foreign forensic labs for months already to involve their experts in the process.
Issue of possible exhumation is not a new development. Such a possibility was raised by prosecutor’s office for number of times last year and PM Garibashvili spoke about it in January, 2014 saying that the authorities wanted to invite one of the “Swiss laboratories” in the examination.