SOCIETY
Death of the Smith family, chronology and rumours surrounding the tragedy
23 July, 2018
4th July - A 43-year old man Ryan Smith and his 42 year old wife Laura Smith along with their 4-year son, Caleb set out from Marneuli to the Khada gorge (Both are in the east part of Georgia). The Smiths were an American family with dual citizenship who lived and worked in Georgia.When they arrived at the Gorge they made camp near the village of Tskere and planned to make their way to a nearby waterfall. They got cut off
on the same day.
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July 6

The Emergency and Operative Response Center were alerted to the possible disappearance of the American family. The caller claimed that the Smiths were at the Khada Gorge but that they could not reach them by phone. 15 rescuers were sent to the gorge to search for the family. Initially they found the family’s belongings, the car and then the body of Laura Smith in the waterfall.
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July 7

The search for the rest of the family continued. The body of Ryan Smith was found 800m from the waterfall. The Ministry of Interior Affairs made its first announcement about the case. An investigation was launched under Article 116 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which implied a possible offence of negligent manslaughter. According to the initial inspection, the dead bodies of the family members had no signs of violence.

July 8

Following the receipt of exclusive information from “kviris palitra” (Georgian wallpaper), it seemed that there may have been more to the incident than was at first thought. As a result of the information, a 19-year shepherd was detained by the police. He led the Police to the dead body of the child and also a gun.

July 9

The official announcement of the Ministry of Interior Affair appeared – Malkhaz Kobauri, born in 1998 was detained due to his confession to the murder of the family.
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The Prosecution’s version of Events:

On July 4, Malkhaz Kobauri came across the family, who asked him to show them the way to the waterfall. The shepherd guided them. On their way to the waterfall, they had a dinner break. Ryan Smith told the shepherd to be more careful with the gun he had with him as they had a child with them. The remark irritated Malkahz Kobauri and so he shot Ryan Smith in the back and then again, in the face.
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In order to hide his crime, he then decided to shoot the wife and child too. After he shot the child, Laura tried to escape by running away toward the waterfall but she fell off the cliff and died.The shepherd hid the body of the child and family belongings in an avalanche .

The locals’ version of Events:

The shepherd told the locals that Laura Smith accidentally fell off the cliff whilst she was taking some photographs and that he tried to save her. Ryan Smith got angry and hit him. The child was crying and he had to shot him too. He told the locals that he was alone.

The mother of the Shepherd ‘s version of Events :

Mariam Martiashvili claims her son is innocent. She believes that the Police put under pressure on him leading him to confess to the murder. She says that some people threatened him to confess or else they would kill his family.

The Shepherd’s version of Events:
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The shepherd ‘s version of events agrees with the Prosecution’s version of the case. An argument started because of Ryan’s remark on his careless carrying of his gun. The Shepherd disposed of the gun’s bullets by throwing them in the river and then hid the child in the avalanche to prevent passers-by from noticing him.

July 11
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Malkhaz Kobauri pleaded not guilty to the charge at Mtskheta District Court. He stated that two foreigners murdered the Smith family and threatened to kill members of his family. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) became involved in the investigation confirming that they will be engaged in a technical examination of the family’s camera and mobile phone .
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July 12

Local and international friends of the family, representatives of the media, non-governmental organizations brought toys, flowers and candles to the Smiths’ home in Marneuli to express their condolences for the tragedy.

July 13

The lawyer representing Malkhaz Kobauri reiterates that his client is not guilty of the charges against him and continues to claim that he only witnessed the tragedy. He alleges that 2 male foreigners who were about 2 meters high with brown hair committed the murders. Their accent made him think that they were Laks from the North Caucasus.

The strangers stopped their car 2-4 meters away from the Smith’s camp. He thinks that Ryan recognized the strangers and took steps to avoid them. The murderers, (the lawyer suggests ), left Malkhaz Kobauri alive to intentionally cast the blame on him.

The lawyer alleges that under psychological pressure was placed on his client and so he pleaded guilty at first. Those two murderers threatened him not to tell the truth to anyone or they would kill his family.

July 13

The Ministry of Interior Affairs is also looking into allegations that Laura Smith may have been raped. They are waiting the results of an autops. The pre-trial Hearing on the case will be held on September 4, 2018 at Mtskheta District Court.


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