The applicable examinations in the investigation of the death of Temirlan Machalikashvili were conducted with flaws. Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) presents an overview of the results of the expert examinations conducted to date, including the forensic examination concluded on March 13, 2018.

The results of an expert examination (including complex-genetic, trace evidence, ballistic and forensic) conducted within the framework of the investigation launched by the Investigation Unit of the Prosecutor's Office on alleged abuse of power during the special operation by the employees of the State Security Service (hereinafter SSG), revealed number of shortcomings in the process of obtaining, documenting and storing of evidence, which weakens the confidence towards the effectiveness and independence of the investigation.

  1. The results of the ballistic examination made it possible to determine the trajectory of the shot fired at T. Machalikashvili and to identify the weapon. The results of the examination show that the shot was fired from the middle of the door of the bedroom of Temirlan Machalikashvili, at 1.35 m. distance from the floor. Despite the fact that it was impossible to determine the exact distance, it was established that it was not shot from a close distance (which according to established classification is <1.2 m.)

The case materials later showed that the bullet shell had not seized from the scene, which complicated the process of identifying the shooting distance. According to the SSG, this was due to fact that part of the weapon was damaged, and as a result, the bullet shell was stuck in the machine gun. The family lawyers requested the relevant examination to investigate the reliability of the information, the alleged damage and effect, which the Prosecutor's Office allowed. After the shell was submitted by the head of Special Forces to the Investigation Unit of the State Security Service, the ballistic examination made it possible to accurately determine the specific firearm.

  1. By means of ballistic expertise, the type of the hand grenade removed from Machilikashvili's bedroom was also determined.However, by the decision of the SSG, in the framework of the examination to determine the functionality of the grenade, it was blown up on January 19, 2018. Taking into consideration the legal specificity of the case, this decision was inappropriate and unreasonable, because the circumstances of the grenade's workability are not directly related to the outcome of the case. In case of such interest, the investigation could have checked the condition of the grenade at the last stage of the investigation. This action creates doubts about the intended destruction of the most important evidence, and at the same time, deprives the family lawyers of the possibility to carry out an independent expert examination of the hand grenade.
  2. The forensic examination, which the EMC lawyer became familiar with on March 13, 2018, shows that the immediate cause of the death of T. Machalikashvili were the injuries inflicted on his head by a firearm on December 26, 2017. The same examination didn’t establish the distance from which the shot was fired and the position of the body at the moment. The forensic examination could not determine the distance as a result of the surgical treatment of the head injuries, which erased the trace, as well as, incomplete and deficient documenting of the morphological picture of the injuries in medical records.

It is noteworthy that the forensic medical examination does not focus on the position of Temirlan Machalikashvili's body at the moment when the shot was fired. Inquiring into this is crucial for assessing the reliability of reasons provided by SSG regarding alleged resistance by T. Machalikashvili.In order to establish these circumstances and evaluate the overall results of various examinations, family lawyers requested the questioning of the persons, who carried out the examination and the arrangement of the commission expert examination.

  1. The results of genetic examination of the hand grenade established the presence of Machalikashvili's genetic profile (DNA) on the hand grenade and the firing mechanism (including the traces of blood). However, according to the results of the dactyloscopic examination, the fingerprints found on the grenade are insufficient for their identification, and there are no fingerprints on the firing mechanism. After the shooting, the employees of the SSG had a full control over Temirlan Machalikashvili's room for about 3 hours and the grenade was seized and examination was arranged by the same agency. This circumstance brings the credibility and validity of the evidence under question. It is noteworthy that the family lawyers do not yet have the photo materials of the original location of the grenade and the explanations of the witnesses. In the expert examination documents, the grenade is shown as already seized and moved.
  2. At this stage, in order to study the traces of damage on the items removed from T. Machilikashvili's bedroom, trace evidence examination is underway. As the video and photo footage from the scene shows the damage is evident in the middle part of the bed of Temirlan Machalikashvili and the pillow, which, along with other circumstances, create grounds for the assumption that the victim was in a horizontal position during the shooting.

It should be emphasized that at the current stage of the investigation of the criminal case, the important investigative actions, as well as, the seizure of hand grenade and other important evidence found at the scene, were carried out by investigators of the SSG. The relevant examinations (including ballistic, biological and dactyloscopic) were arranged by the same agency. This circumstance puts the validity of the case evidence under suspicion and weakens confidence in the independence and efficiency of the investigation carried out by the Prosecutor's Office.

Overall, these circumstances indicate that there have been significant gaps in the process of seizure, storage and documenting of the evidence within the scope of the investigation, which highlights the problems of effectiveness and the independence of the ongoing investigation. In some cases, there are doubts with regard to the interest in destroying the possibility of a complete restoration of the evidence and the full picture.

In case of obtaining full access to case materials related to the death of T. Machalikashvili, EMC, will present a unified and more systematic assessment of the results of the already conducted and planned expert examinations.