Numerous Witnesses of Guram Sharadze’s Murder: What Does the “Edited” Video Actually Show?
Almost one year has already passed since Guram Sharadze, famous Georgian Scientist, was brutally murdered in Tbilisi. The case has been investigated and the responsible person caught and sentenced. However, is the right person spending hard time or has someone been set up to take a fall for a crime he did not commit. The convicted murder is not considered as being guilty by the family of Guram Sharadze. They consider that an innocent person is behind bars. Rusudan Sharadze, the daughter of Guram Sharadze, cannot believe that her father was murdered by Giorgi Barateli. This begs many questions: What has Rusudan Sharadze found out since the death of her father? What do scores and scores of witnesses and video-recorded footage reveal about the murder? The Human Rights Center has interviewed Rusudan Sharadze.
Journalist: What have you found out since your father’s murder? How can you still be sure that Giorgi Barateli was not the killer of Guram Sharadze?
Rusudan Sharadze: The government starting circulating nasty rumors soon after the assassination; they aimed to cover up and real evidences and that this was actually political murder. I was sure from the very beginning that it was a political assassination. When they named Giorgi Barateli as the murderer, and the action of the government even convinced me that my version is the right one. I know Giorgi very well. Initially it was my intuition but afterwards I met a lot of witnesses and finally I have become completely convinced that my version of the murder is correct after having spoken to dozens of witnesses that were on Melikishvili and other streets, including Shanidze, Khorava, Petriashvili streets at the moment of the killing.. I should not mention the people in Barnov Street and “Mrvali Baghi” area where Barateli was actually arrested. Besides that there is a video-recording from the video-camera that belongs to the office of Insurance Company “Aldagi.” This clip has been badly edited and damaged; though we can still prove with certainly the truth based on this film.
The witnesses in Melikishvili, Shanidze and Petriashvili street saw a completely different person, whose physical appearance radically contradicts the appearance of Giorgi Barateli. There were actually two murderers in the case: one who was following my father and who was the first to shoot and kill him. The second person who was waiting for my father near when my father died and made two additional control shots to his body to make sure he was dead. The main point is that fifteen minutes Giorgi Barateli was seen at the crossing of Shanidze and Khorava Streets. He appeared on the scene after both murderers had already escaped. There are witnesses who can confirm my statement.
J: How did you find the witnesses?
R.Sh. It was the witnesses who found me and I did not seek them out. Some of them were my old acquaintances, others knew my parents well. Completely strange people also met me. they promised me to make statements what they had witnessed. But you know, in the country where a Prime-Minister is openly assassinated, Guram Sharadze is shot in the street, an ordinary person cannot feel himself/herself safe in coming forth to share information. Under such conditions it is impossible to be responsible for their safety?
J: What did they tell you? What does the video recording of the “Aldagi” show that raised your suspicion?
R.Sh. The witnesses saw real murderers and the video-recording demonstrate the same. My father was chased by a person who us much taller than what is Giorgi Barateli; this suspect has broad shoulders and is wearing loosely hanging overcoat with long sleeves. He is not bold like Barateli. I was examining the film recording for six hours at the police station. For example, father is approaching the tree and I stop the film so I can see a person who is much taller than what was my dad. My father was 1, 8 meter tall person; as for Barateli he is only 1, 57 meters. It is too difficult to notice the difference between the victim and the murderer because the film has been edited. Nearly 400 shots are cut out. I worked for vision so I know how similar things are done. they consider that everybody is so stupid not to understand. I examined the film with time codes. most part of the cut out shots demonstrates the time of the actual killing. It is not seen who is shooting the second shot but it is obvious that somebody is waiting for Guram. The second murderer who was waiting for my dad at the corner of Shanidze and Melikishvili Streets was wearing a dark shirt with short sleeves. He look very much like the first killer.” He was tall, like a leopard or lion,” as witnesses described the murderer to me.
One more witness personally saw how my dad was shot; he said that the murderer was wearing a dark shirt. I is clear that one statement coincides with another.
Barateli was seen at the corner of Shanidze and Khorava Streets. he was slowly moving to Petriashvili street where the murderer had run to some fifteen minutes later. He was wearing a checkered shirt. During detention he was definitely made to put on the shirt of a stranger because it was too large for him. The police have come to the place where the murderer had already escaped.
Everybody is wondering why the murderer occurred in front of the camera. Georgians have already become accustomed to the fact that the biggest lie pronounced by the Georgian government should be confirmed and not resisted. Why was Irakli Batiashvili arrested? The evidence that could have been used in defending him was really used against him.
Every Sunday my father was working at the National Library, and as a general rule if something terrible had not happened, he was the kind of man that came home at the same time each day. He had only one itinerary: he used to cross the underground passage near the Kashveti Church and then he used to walk the entire distance to home in the same direction. As I watched the video-recording, the deputy head of the Criminal Police Department told me that the recording was essential proof of the murder. I immediately discovered the official version in his words, and how the recording was used as evidence. Afterwards, when they saw that we were examining the film they declared it was damaged.
We demanded from the beginning that that the investigation restage the murder. Barateli should have walked in the same direction and the “Aldagi” camera should have recorded it again. then we could compare both recordings. Of course, they refused our request. It was 45 days before I was even allowed to see the time as they delayed and did not want me to see it.
J: Why did they choose Giorgi Barateli to blame? You might be asked this question quite often; however it is strange why did they choose him and not some other person?
R.Sh. He was close to my brother. they could not find anybody from among my friends. My elder brother was killed sleeping in bed. They could not find any enemy of my father because he had never betrayed anyone and always stood up to his values.
Besides, being in prison is not strange for him. He had served a sentence as a juvenile. He was released only after Georgian celebrities held demonstration to set youth offenders free. Several underage prisoners were released at that time. Barateli was set under charge of Koka Kandiashvili’s studio “Audiencia” where my brother Giorgi Charadze worked as director-in-chief. Generally, my brother and Kokma Kandiashvili brought up Barateli as a film operator.
The controversy between my brother and Barateli was not actual. Seven years ago they were in Switserland together and the investigation took advantage of obscure period for their purposes. When my brother Giorgi worked as a Culture Attaché at the Georgian Council in Switzerland. His activities were connected with the television stations where he was working on documentary film on Grigol Robakidze. Barateli worked with him as a film-operator. When Barateli was supposed to return to Tbilisi he intentionally stole something from the shop. Barateli did know that cameras were installed in the shop but he did not want to return to Georgia. All this happened in 2000. After that Barateli returned home and I want to confirm that my brother has never seen him since that time. Incidentally, none involved in the investigation wants to take notice about this fact.
J: From the very beginning they were speaking about several versions of murder. Has time changed anything?
R.Sh. it is a political murder. Generally it was result of my father’s character, as he was the kind of person who could not be bribed. After Rose Revolution, all TV Stations had blocked my father from making public statements. Anyway they could not stop him from speaking his mind. Various rumors were spread about him. Several newspapers cooperating in published his articles. Professor Guram Sharadze had been arrested twice. The charge against him was showing disgust against Misha Saakashvili, Giga Bokeria, Levan Ramishvili and Givi Targmanadze. Georgian society should definitely remember what dad was speaking about them.
The government had decided to kill him and it became evident several weeks after the murder. They had expressed their desire to resettle Turkish Meskhs in Georgia. If today these people are not settled in our country, and it was Guram Sharadze who is responsible. He was the head of the committee which worked on the repatriation of Turk Meskhs. My father had documents which proved that Georgian and Meskh peoples did not have anything in common. Meskhs can confirm this themselves. Even after the assassination of my father an Armenian group blocked the issue in America.
Another topic for controversy between the government and my father was Georgian Estate of Levile in France. My father was sacrificed because of this issue. In addition to the fact that the government had intended to get rid of the Writers’ Union. They also intended to expel several dozens of editorial offices from the Publishing House “Samshoblo.” My Father was not willing to let them get away with this. The government did not want to have more problems. Besides that they had personal disgust towards him; they could not forgive my dad that he was defeating them for many years.
For example He had appealed to the court against Gia Nodia (Georgian Minister of Education) who had transferred a large grant that he had received from some international organization to his wife.
J: The assassination of Guram Sharadze is one of the famous murders in Georgia and this may be considered as a political murder. When does it become necessary to commit a political assassination? Do similar murders have anything in common?
R.Sh. the government kills its political opponents at crucial moments. I cannot say that my father Zurab Zhvania and Badri Patarkatsishvili were similar people. They had various fields of activities. They were all very different people. It is fact that all of them are murdered because they get in the way of the government from being able to do anything that it wants. PM Zurab Zhvania was a problem for them because of his power, talent, and brains. I have never praised them but I respected these people – as they were all very clever men. Guram Sharadze prevented the government at the national field from being out of control. He had a great influence on the people and Georgian culture. Patarkatsishvili could stand up and defeat the government and that’s why they got rid of him.