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‘Terrorism’ investigation launched into father of slain Pankisi teen

14 June 2018
Malkhaz Machalikashvili (Mari Nikuradze/OC Media)

Georgia’s State Security Service (SSG) has launched an investigation into Malkhaz Machalikashvili, the father of Temirlan Machalikashvili, a 19-year-old boy killed by security forces in Pankisi in December, after he said he ‘and several hundred others’ had planned to blow themselves up at the SSG offices but changed their minds. Machalikashvili later explained his speech was merely an emotional speech, insisting he would do no harm to Georgian people.

The SSG confirmed to OC Media that an investigation had been launched, but did not specify when exactly or on what charges.

‘When a person make such a statement about committing a terrorist act, the SSG is obliged to make a legal response’, a spokesperson told OC Media.

On 31 May, Machalikashvili spoke at a rally in front of Tbilisi’s parliament building where thousands had taken to the streets to protest a ‘compromised investigation’ into the Khorava Street murders. He demanded punishment for SSG head Vakhtang Gomelauri, who he said ‘was managing the process’.

‘I and several hundred other people had sworn to go to the SSG and blow ourselves up. But I changed my mind because of my love towards the Georgian people, so nobody would get hurt’, said Machalikashvili.

The following day, Machalikashvili elaborated on his comment, saying that he had spoken out of emotions and would never do such a thing to ‘Georgian people’.

‘They killed my son twice. Calling him a terrorist was worse than his murder. He hadn’t left the house for a year. I collected money for an operation to make him able to come out. But they shot him in his bed and labelled him a terrorist. After that, they are still asking me why I would say something like that. I said something stupid and they twisted it’, said Machalikashvili on 1 June.

The Human Rights Education and Monitoring Centre (EMC), a local rights group, said that launching an investigation into Machalikashvili was ‘unfounded and problematic’. In a statement, they said that Machalikashvili’s remark did not contain a crime or signs he was attempting to commit a crime, adding that an idea conceived in a person’s mind that is not acted on cannot be considered a crime, attempted crime, or preparation for a crime.

‘The non-transparent investigation may be a sign of attempts to exert unofficial control over Machalikashvili and members of his family. It may be connected with their active participation in the ongoing social protests’, says EMC’s statement.

They criticised the government for causing further ‘stress’ to a family who had lost a member, instead of conducting an ‘efficient investigation’ into his death. They said that connecting his statement with terrorism was a result and prejudices towards people from the Pankisi Valley, the majority of whom are Muslims.

Temirlan Machalikashvili’s killing

Nineteen-year-old Temirlan Machalikashvili died 15 days after being shot in the head during a special operation in Georgia’s Pankisi Valley.

Machalikashvili, an ethnic Kist, was fatally wounded in his house on 26 December as Georgian security forces conducted a counterterror sweep.

While the SSG maintained that the task force was forced to open fire after Machalikashvili reached for a hand grenade, his family have said he was sleeping in bed at the time.

[Read More about Machalikashvili’s murder on OC Media: Questions in Pankisi, after Georgian Security Services kill teen]

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