Yuri Vazagashvili, who campaigned for investigation of death of his son in a police operation in 2006, died in an explosion that occurred at the grave of his son on January 20.
According to witnesses they heard a sound of explosion and when approached the grave found dead body of Yuri Vazagashvili, who was visiting the grave of his son in the village of Karapila in Kaspi municipality of Shida Kartli region.
Deputy chief prosecutor, Irakli Shotadze, confirmed that the death was caused by explosion, but was not able to specify what kind of explosive device it was. Shotadze, who visited the incident site, told the Georgian Public Broadcaster that this and other details would become known later. No explosive device, other than the one which went off, was found at the scene, he said.
The deputy chief prosecutor said that the investigation was launched under article 109 of the criminal code, dealing with cases of premeditated murder.
Relatives, friends and lawyers of Vazagashvili have already suggested about possible link between the explosion, that killed the man, and his long-running efforts to achieve punishment of those law enforcement officers, whom he had blamed for excessive use of force during the operation in which his son and another young man were killed in Tbilisi in 2006.
Zurab Vazagashvili and Aleksandre Khubulov were killed by the police, armed with machine guns, while driving in car in central Tbilisi on May 2, 2006. Police claimed they had to respond with fire only after shots were fired from inside the car. But alternative ballistic investigation commissioned at the time by the Public Defender’s Office established that no shot had been made from the car. In April 2007 the authorities closed investigation into allegations that police used excessive force. The Vazagashvili family has kept on campaigning persistently, accusing authorities of fabricating evidence and covering up the case to prevent punishment of law enforcement officers, who were involved in the police operation. In 2007 the family also took the case to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.
The authorities reopened the investigation after change of government in late 2012, and it is still ongoing.
In a newspaper interview, published on January 19, a day before his death, Yuri Vazagashili criticized the authorities for lack of progress in the investigation. And at a press conference last week, he said that some of the law enforcement officers, who were part of the operation in which his son was killed, were still working for the Interior Ministry and blamed minister Alexander Tchikaidze of “protecting” them.
Dozens of people gathered late on Tuesday night outside the Parliament in Tbilisi, demanding from the authorities to immediately investigate the death of Yuri Vazagashvili.
PM Irakli Garibashvili said in a statement that he’s “shocked” by death of Yuri Vazagashvili; he called on the law enforcement agencies to immediately investigate the case and to complete investigation of Zurab Vazagashvili’s case in “the shortest period of time.”
President Giorgi Margvelashvili also released a statement expressing condolences over the death of Vazagashvili and expressing hope that investigation will “timely establish the truth.”