12 Mar 2018 13:45

U.S. ambassador urges inquiry into Georgian citizen's death in Tskhinval

TBILISI. March 12 (Interfax) - U.S. Ambassador in Tbilisi Ian Kelly has called for an investigation into the death of Georgian citizen Archil Tatunashvili in Tskhinval on February 23.

It is unclear why the body of Tatunashvili has yet to be transferred, the ambassador told reporters on Monday after meeting with members of the Georgian parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee behind closed doors.

The circumstances of Tatunashvili's death must be investigated, Kelly said.

This is not the first time that culprits have escapes punishment, he said.

The ambassador recalled an incident in Khurcha in May 2016, when Georgian citizen Giga Otkhozoria was shot and killed by an Abkhazian border guard.

The new incident has attracted the attention of the international community, and the culprits must be held accountable, Kelly said.

As for the Georgian parliament's intention to adopt a resolution over the Tskhinval incident, the ambassador said the resolution should call for prosecuting the culprits.

Kelly believes the resolution will have an effect if it is supported by the parliamentary majority and the opposition.

As to what he discussed with Georgian parliamentarians, Kelly said they considered challenges Georgia faces and the assistance the United States could give to deal with them.

Kelly reiterated the U.S.' support for the Euro-Atlantic integration of Georgia.

The sides addressed Georgia-Russia relations and the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he said.

Kelly added that his diplomatic mission to Georgia would end soon, so he had bid farewell to Georgian parliamentarians.

The press service of the South Ossetian State Security Committee said on February 23 that Tatunashvili and two other citizens of Georgia had been detained in Leningori on February 22 and taken to Tskhinval for questioning. According to Tskhinval, Tatunashvili refused to speak with the detectives, and the decision was made to put him in a detention facility. Tatunashvili attacked his escort and tried to seize a weapon. "The guards stopped the attempt by using physical force and special means. Tatunashvili lost his balance and fell on the stairs; he was taken to a hospital with injuries," the South Ossetian State Security Committee said.

Officials in Tbilisi expressed doubt about that theory and demanded a transparent inquiry.