The decision of Sokhumi authorities to drop charges against Rashid Kanji-Ogli, Abkhaz serviceman, who was sentenced in absentia over the murder of Giga Otkhozoria, “prevents justice taking its rightful course,” the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia said in a statement on June 12.
“It also disregards a full year of intensive work, including the handing over of investigation materials at the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meetings,” the Delegation added, apparently responding to the statement of Abkhaz authorities that Tbilisi failed to send “necessary” case-related evidence to Sokhumi.
“Impunity of serious crime negatively impacts perceptions of security on the ground,” the Delegation also said, adding that work on the case and other issues related to security on the ground “must continue.”
Earlier, on June 6, the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship expressed concern over the decision not to prosecute the case, calling it “a great disappointment.”
“This decision contradicts the constructive spirit displayed at the Gali IPRM as well as at the Geneva International Discussions,” the spokesperson for OSCE Chairmanship said.
“Since the resumption of meetings of the Gali IPRM in May 2016, the sides have been working intensively on that case, including through exchange of investigation materials,” the spokesperson added.
The Austrian Chairmanship called on all participants of the Geneva International Discussions “to engage professionally and constructively in order to enhance stability and to promote confidence and peace building to the benefit of the local population.”
Giga Otkhozoria, a thirty-year-old Georgian citizen,was murdered by Rashid Kanji-Ogli, Abkhaz serviceman, on the Georgian-controlled territory at the Khurcha-Nabakevi crossing point between Abkhazia’s predominantly ethnic Georgian-populated Gali district and its adjoining Zugdidi district of Samegrelo region on May 19, 2016.
Kanji-Ogli was tried in absentia by a Georgian court and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was also placed on INTERPOL’s wanted list at the request of Georgian authorities.
The Abkhaz representatives notified Tbilisi of their decision to drop charges against Kanji-Ogli at the 46th Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meeting in Gali. Sokhumi previously claimed it had imposed house arrest for Rashid Kanji-Ogli.