LAW
A Verdict in the Zurab Zhvania CaseA Verdict in the Zurab Zhvania Case
21 August, 2015
A Verdict in the Zurab Zhvania CaseA Verdict in the Zurab Zhvania Case
Was Georgia’s former prime minister killed by a carbon monoxide leak caused by an improperly installed gas heater , or was his death a hit planned by a certain group? Why wasn’t the picture of what actually had happened there established over an ample time of ten years? Why wasn’t it determined who - Zurab Zhvania’s family, his friends or his bodyguards – tells the truth and who lies? The amount of questions regarding Zurab Zhvania’s death case increases almost on a yearly basis, but so far society has not received a single coherent answer on what really happened on February 3rd, 2005.

Upon coming into power, the Georgian Dream coalition resumed the investigation of the prime minister’s death, with both the justice minister and chief prosecutor together with Zhvania’s family assuring people that they will know the truth in the near future, but three years have passed since these assurances and details of the prime minister’s death continue to remain hazy.

One of the elements in the case was brought to a conclusion a few days ago, though. The jury rendered a guilty verdict for the head of Zurab Zhvania’s security Koba Kharshiladze and Zhvania’s bodyguard Mikheil Dzadzamia, convicting them of criminal negligence. Simultaneously, they recommended that the judge soften the sentence. Eventually, Judge Eka Areshidze decided to sentence Koba Kharshiladze to two years and four months (reduced by amnesty to one year and nine months), but due to Kharshiladze already being embroiled in another case related to financial law violations, the old sentence absorbed the new one, resulting in a total of four months of imprisonment as a result. As for Mikheil Dzadzamia, the judge initially gave him 11 months and 41 days of imprisonment, but due to him having already spent a lot time in custody before his bail was paid, he was released from the court.

As Kharshiladze recalls, the bodies of the prime minister and his companion Raul Usupov were found naked. So in order to protect Zhvania’s image, they decided to remove Usupov’s corpse from the scene and put the clothes back on the deceased

At the court proceedings, Koba Kharshiladze explained that the ill-fated apartment was secret and frequently used by Zurab Zhvania to hold confidential private or business meetings. On February 3rd, 2005, the late prime minister asked his bodyguards to leave him for this very purpose. Kharshiladze and
Dzadzamia returned to the apartment only after Zhvania failed to answer their phone calls for four hours straight. As Kharshiladze recalls, the bodies of the prime minister and his companion Raul Usupov were found naked. So in order to protect Zhvania’s image, they decided to remove Usupov’s corpse from the scene and put the clothes back on the deceased: “We brought his body outside. I held his head while Misha held his legs, but when we came back, we thought what it would like for others - Zurab Zhvania dead, alone in some backwater apartment. What conclusions would be drawn from this? So we brought Raul’s body back inside and placed it in a position similar to the one he originally was – with maybe a five or ten centimeter difference – and that’s how the investigators first found them.”

Despite all the newly discovered details, circumstances or previously unheard testimonies, things haven’t changed much. Zurab Zhvania’s death remains an open case, and the investigation still continues. The main question here is: “Who else will be carried away by the maelstrom of the tragedy that took place on February 3rd?”

Author:
Rusudan Shelia
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