Fatal shooting in Khurcha was “discussed extensively” at the 36th round of the Geneva talks on June 15, co-chairs of the international discussions, ongoing since the 2008 war, said.
Georgian citizen Giga Otkhozoria was shot several times at point-blank range allegedly by an Abkhaz border guard serviceman on the Georgian-controlled area close to the Khurcha-Nabakevi crossing point at the administrative boundary line with breakaway Abkhazia on May 19. The fatal shooting was captured on CCTV camera and the footage was then showed by the Georgian television stations.
The Abkhaz side said that it filed criminal charges against its border guard serviceman suspected of shooting Otkhozoria; the suspect, however, has not been detained. Criminal charges against the suspect have also been filed by the Georgian prosecutor’s office.
EU, UN and OSCE envoys, who chair the Geneva International Discussions, said after the recent round on Wednesday, that they “called for a swift and objective investigation into the circumstances surrounding this deeply regrettable crime, cooperation between all relevant actors on the ground and the detention and prosecution of the perpetrator.”
The talks in Geneva include negotiators from Georgia, Russia, the U.S., as well as representatives from breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia
The Georgian Foreign Ministry said that the Georgian side provided participants of the talks with “additional information” in connection to this murder case and “strongly demanded capture of the perpetrator.”
“Regrettably, representatives of the occupation regime [Abkhaz authorities] had no valuable information over this case,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry said.
Georgia’s chief negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Dondua, said the Abkhaz side showed “irresponsible approach” to this case. He said that all the participants of the talks, “even the Russian side, were calling on the Abkhaz side that the perpetrator should be arrested.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry, which is represented in the Geneva talks by deputy minister Grigory Karasin, said the participants “expressed hope that the Abkhaz authorities will carry out investigation of the tragic incident of May 19… in full compliance with their national legislation and provide information about it in frames of IPRM.”
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IPRM – Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism – established in frames of the Geneva talks with the purpose of addressing security concerns and developments on the ground on regular basis. On the Abkhaz direction, IPRM meetings in Gali were resumed after a four-year break, in late May. The next meeting of IPRM in Gali is scheduled for July 6.
Foreign Ministry of breakaway Abkhazia said that that investigation was ongoing into Khurcha fatal shooting and called on Tbilisi “not to politicize this incident, not to create additional source of tension, and to let the competent authorities of Abkhazia to carry out objective investigation.”
Georgia’s PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili said on June 6 that failure of the Abkhaz side to prosecute a man, who killed Giga Otkhozoria makes it “increasingly difficult” to continue IPRM meetings, complicates the Geneva talks and undermines confidence building efforts.
Geneva talks are held in two working groups – one addressing security issues on the ground, international security arrangements and non-use of force, and humanitarian issues are discussed in the second group.
Among the issues regularly raised during the Geneva talks are non-use of force and international security arrangement, as well as return of refugees, on which the participants are failing to make a progress.
Abkhaz and South Ossetian representatives backed by the Russian side walked out of discussions when it came to the issue of return of refugees and internally displace persons. They cited Georgia’s attempts of “politicizing” the IDPs issue by pushing annually at the UN General Assembly a resolution calling for return of internally displaced persons; the most recent resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly on June 7. This is not the first time when the Abkhaz and South Ossetian participants walked out of the talks because of this reason.
The next, 37th round of the Geneva international discussions has been scheduled for October 4-5.