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Torture most frequently takes place under conditions in which only the officials perpetrating the abuse and the victim are present, or in the presence of witnesses who may be reluctant to testify. A medical examination can therefore be a crucial tool to establish the cause of any injuries, and may provide important evidence that torture has occurred or that a confession or other testimony has been coerced. Such medical evidence is not only useful to substantiate a complaint of torture, but could also contribute to the prosecution of abusive law enforcement officials.36

If a medical examination is conducted promptly-within three or four days of the incident-it can usually establish the cause of a detainee's injuries. But delays in performing the examination in most cases greatly reduce itsvalue-depending on the type and location of injuries on the body, a delay of even two weeks in performing an examination makes it difficult for doctors to establish the cause and sometimes even the nature of injuries. It is currently difficult, however, for those under criminal investigation to obtain objective medical examinations in a timely manner to substantiate reports of physical abuse.

Access to Forensic Examinations

In the Soviet-era criminal procedure code in force before May 1999, prior to trial a detainee or defense lawyer was required to petition the investigator handling the case or a higher-level procuracy official to obtain a forensic medical examination, which could only be performed by a state-employed examiner. The express permission of the investigator or a higher-level procuracy official was needed, therefore, before an official forensic medical examination could be performed prior to trial.

Currently, provisions in the 1998 code are vague with regard to access to forensic medical examinations. A detainee may request an examination from an investigator, but the code itself does not specifically require that an investigator issue an order to the state forensic medical examiners office before an examination can take place.37

In a significant departure from previous practice, article 364 of the 1998 code allows the defense to obtain and present in court "alternative" expert opinions from independent experts not employed by the government.38 This provision governs all types of expert opinion and stipulates that the defense need only inform the procuracy if it is not satisfied with the expert examination that has been ordered by the procuracy or other investigator and provided by government experts.

However, the code contains a provision in article 366 (an article that specifically governs forensic medical examinations) that appears to conflict with article 364. Although the code does not expressly require the consent of an investigator, article 366 requires a suspect, defendant, or victim in a criminal case to secure the permission of an investigator before he or she can "attend" expert examination. Human Rights Watch has not received any specific complaints to date that the requirement in article 366 has been used to delay or preclude detainees from forensic medical examinations.

But lawyers note that other impediments to obtaining the examination continue to exist, and that they are left with little recourse should an investigator or higher-level procuracy officials decline to order an examination. They note that regulations governing the Ministry of Health Judicial Medical Expert Center-staff of which would conduct such examinations-continue to require an order from the procuracy or other investigator, or from a judge, before doctorswill conduct the examination.39 Moreover, under the Georgian Law on Imprisonment, the permission of an investigator, a procuracy official, or judge must be secured before an individual can be visited while in detention.

The vagueness of the code regarding the right of access to forensic medical examinations, combined with the regulations stipulating the need for procuracy permission, is particularly troubling given numerous reports that investigators often refuse to authorize forensic medical examinations, and that procuracy officials have repeatedly refused to overturn such decisions. The case of Giga Shukashvili is illustrative. Shukashvili, a twenty-seven-year-old Tbilisi resident, was detained on January 25, 1998, and taken to the Guldani District Police Station, where, he reported, police severely beat him and coerced him into signing false testimony regarding the theft of car tires. On January 26, he was taken to the Tbilisi Main Police Department, where, he reported, he was placed in a room with six, and at times more, inmates. These inmates, who were allegedly police informers, subjected him to severe and brutal beatings intermittently over a period of about eighteen days until he signed a confession that he had participated in a series of car thefts. On February 13 or 14, after having signed the confession, he was transferred to Investigative Isolator No. 1. On March 19, 1998, Shukashvili complained to the procuracy that he had been coerced through mental and physical abuse into signing the confessions.

In April 1998, Shukashvili's lawyer submitted a petition to procuracy investigator Malkhaz Machavariani protesting Machavariani's decision not to authorize a forensic medical examination.40 Shukashvili's mother, Nelly Lagvilava, told Human Rights Watch that she then wrote Procurator General Hamlet Babilashvili on May 7 to request that procuracy officials overturn Investigator Machavariani's decision.41 There was no response from the procurator general; Ministry of Internal Affairs Special Department staff responded instead.42 In a letter dated July 6, Ministry of Internal Affairs Inspection Department Chief M. Liparteliani wrote to the family denying the request, stating that a forensic medical examination was unnecessary because Shukashvili had stated in his testimony that he could not identify the police officials responsible for the beating.

Shukashvili was not able to obtain permission for the medical examination until July 27, 1998, after his case went to court and the judge ordered an examination. The examination found traces of injuries, but could not conclude how and when they had been sustained. Shukashvili subsequently identified some of the police officers responsible for the abuse, but he was then detained for several hours on May 25, 1999, at Mtsatsminda District Police Station, apparently in an effort to get him to withdraw his complaint.43 According to his sister, individuals whom Shukashvili identified as connected with the police officers who abused him subsequently visited their home and threatened them if they should not withdraw the complaint.44

More recently, Tbilisi defense lawyer Keti Beqauri told Human Rights Watch that access to examinations continues to be arbitrary. Beqauri cited a current case in which a senior procuracy official overruled a lower-level investigator's refusal to order a forensic medical examination after the detainee, her client, reported that he had beenbeaten, and she strenuously complained to procuracy officials about the abuse and refusal to order the examination. But she noted that in a second, unrelated case, which had not yet gone to trial, investigators refused to authorize a forensic medical examination after a client told her that he had been beaten.45 The detainee had been held in the Tbilisi Main Police Department on charges of distributing drugs. When the investigator refused to order a medical examination, Beqauri appealed to the Tbilisi City Procuracy in October. But by mid-December 1999, two months later, she had received no answer. She told Human Rights Watch that she thought that the lack of response was indicative of the procuracy's negative attitude toward the request, and that it would be useless to appeal it to the next higher procuracy official, the procurator general. Instead, she said, she would wait until the trial commenced to petition the judge for the examination.

In another case, that of Lasha Kartvelishvili, a twenty-nine-year-old Tbilisi resident, police and procuracy officials refused to allow an independent forensic medical examination to be carried out, or to allow the detainee be moved from a police lockup to a Ministry of Justice remand prison even though the detainee had been charged, and a judge had ordered his pre-trial detention. Kartvelishvili was detained late on the night of February 4, 2000, after an altercation that resulted in the shooting death of a police officer. According to his mother, Gulnazi Kartvelishvili, he was arrested at the home of a friend and initially taken to the Mtsatsminda District Police Station in Tbilisi, and then transferred to the Tbilisi Main Police Department.46 He initially accepted representation from a state-appointed lawyer and signed a confession on February 4 that he had shot the police officer. But the family retained a private lawyer, Levan Buadze, on February 7, who met with Kartvelishvili on the evening of February 8. During the meeting, Kartvelishvili told the lawyer that he had been severely beaten. On the evening of February 9, the Rustavi 2 television evening news program showed footage of Kartvelishvili seated at a table in a long-sleeved shirt with a large, dark and pronounced bruise covering his left eye and portions of the left side of his face.47 On the footage, Kartvelishvili stated that he had shot the police officer, and that his injuries were the result of a fall down a flight of stairs.

Kartvelishvili's lawyer, Buadze, told Human Rights Watch, that on February 7 he filed a petition with the responsible Tbilisi City Procuracy investigator to move Kartvelishvili from the lockup to a remand facility and to allow him to be examined by an independent forensic medical doctor.48 On February 8, Kartvelishvili's father sent a petition to General Procurator Babilashvili requesting that he be moved, and on February 9, Buadze again petitioned the procuracy investigator to transfer Kartvelishvili from the lockup and to allow an independent medical examination to be carried out. A subsequent petition filed by the lawyer with the Tbilisi City Procuracy on February 16 reiterated the requests and protested the procuracy investigator's reply to the initial petitions, which said that an official forensic medical examination had been carried out on February 4, that it showed that Kartvelishvili had sustained his injuries falling down a flight of stairs, and that there was therefore no need for any further examination.

Tbilisi City Police Chief Soso Alavidze was reported to have stated at a February 17 press conference that the procuracy had written to him to request that he keep Kartvelishvili in the facility as there were insufficient Ministry of Justice prison guards to transfer him from the lockup to a remand facility.49 Alavidze was also reported to have commended the police officers who detained Kartvelishvili for not killing him as he fled his arrest, adding, "He has less injuries than a person [usually] gets while trying to escape from the police."50 On the evening of February 18, Kartvelishvili's family reported that he was finally transferred from the lockup of the Tbilisi Main Police Department, and that no independent doctor had been allowed into the facility to examine or treat him.

It is unclear why permission from the procuracy or police investigator should be needed at all for a detainee to undergo a forensic medical examination, or even if permission were needed, why a detainee cannot be authorized torequest one from a court from the moment he or she has been detained. Those who are under criminal investigation and at liberty should also be given access to such examinations when they deem it necessary to substantiate abuse by a law enforcement official. The Ministry of Health regulation together with the code's requirement that an investigator's refusal to allow the examination must be challenged before higher-level procuracy officials-instead of immediately to a court-severely reduces the likelihood that a detainee will receive a prompt examination before evidence of abuse fades.

Lack of Impartiality of State-Provided Examinations

In Georgian courts, only a state-employed forensic medical examiner-which in the vast majority of criminal cases is an employee of the Ministry of Health Judicial Medical Expert Center-can testify about the cause of a detainee's injuries.51 The center is headquartered and has laboratory facilities in the capitol, Tbilisi, with additional forensic medical examiners who report to the service based in districts outside of the capitol.

Expert medical and other analysis can frequently be a deciding factor at trial. Yet lawyers and their clients have complained that state experts are often biased and lack objectivity. Lia Tsinandeliani, then head of the Ministry of Justice's Center of Expert Analysis and Special Research, which performs expert analysis on non-medical issues, noted the emphasis on government-provided expert opinion in the Georgian legal system, and the intense pressure on expert witnesses. Tsinandeliani told Human Rights Watch that bribery and pressure by the parties to render a decision favorable to one side or the other is a serious problem for the experts in her center. She reported that there have even been death threats against some experts.52 She noted that she had attempted to draft legislation to bring about reform of the center, so as to insulate experts from such pressure and bribery, and to ensure that they were capable of rendering objective opinions. Her draft legislation containing proposals for reforms was rejected by higher-level ministry officials, and she subsequently left her position.

Expert medical opinions by Ministry of Health Judicial Medical Expert Center examiners are especially sensitive because they can be an important factor leading to the prosecution of abusive law enforcement officials. In cases reviewed by Human Rights Watch, there was a disturbing pattern of Ministry of Health forensic medical examiners rendering "inconclusive" reports or downplaying detainees' injuries when to do otherwise would have led to the investigation and prosecution of law enforcement officials.

For example, Eka Tavartkiladze, a twenty-eight-year-old resident of Tbilisi, fell to her death from the window of a police officer's sixth-floor apartment window on August 15, 1997. Three police officers present at the time were charged with assisting a suicide but subsequently acquitted. Court records obtained by Human Rights Watch include statements by the officers that Ms. Tavartkiladze had been suspected in the theft of one of the officer's property. It is unclear, however, why the officers held Ms. Tavartkiladze for more than five hours in an apartment, instead of at the police station, where they apparently questioned her and claimed she confessed to the theft.

The Ministry of Health forensic medical examiners' report, dated December 3, 1997, included pages of detailed description of the gruesome injuries Eka Tavartkiladze sustained, including extensive bruises all over her body, three broken ribs, and a skull fracture. Yet, the report was inconclusive. While it stated that it was unlikely that she had sustained all of these injuries as a result of the fall, it went on to say that it was not possible to determine with complete certainty if she had sustained them before her death. The judge cited this report in his decision to acquit the three police officers.

In another such case, Ivane Kolbaya, a thirty-two-year-old Lanchkhuti resident, fell to his death from a fifth-floor window while in the custody of the Tbilisi Main Police Department on March 22, 1999. Police stated that Kolbaya fell during a break in questioning by police officials regarding his alleged involvement in the theft of parquet flooring and other items. Levan Chachuah, deputy chief of the Ministry of Health forensic medical center, told Human Rights Watch that forensic medical examiners do not have the capacity to determine conclusively whether the trauma marks they found on the victim's body were a result of the fall or were sustained prior to his death.53 Ministry of Internal Affairs officials claimed at the time of Ivane Kolbaya's death that he had committed suicide, and in May 1999 that a second subsequent investigation had confirmed their initial finding of suicide.

In another case, three police officers from the Ministry of Internal Affairs traffic inspection department in Rustavi, a small town near Tbilisi, flagged down a motorist, a sixty-year-old Rustavi resident named Levan,54 in the early hours of August 9, 1999, and severely beat him, according to his wife. Yet a Rustavi-based Ministry of Health forensic medical examiner concluded that his injuries were not serious.

Levan failed to stop for police on that night because he did not have his driver's licence and had drunk vodka. He attempted to flee, damaging two police cars in the process. Three police officers pursued and caught him, then severely beat him into unconsciousness near the gates of the warehouse at which he was employed.

After the beating, Levan was detained and initially taken to a small police checkpoint nearby, then to the Rustavi Ministry of Internal Affairs facility for the intoxicated where, according to his wife, he was told to wash and to write a statement that he had sustained his injuries by banging his head during arrest. She added:

"His sister called me and told me he was asking for clothes...they had torn his shirt and he had lost his shoes; his trousers were covered with drops of blood." She recalled later seeing him when he arrived home, " was summer then, and so he was sleeping with his shirt off, and I could see the bruises on his chest."55

Levan had suffered a severe cut to his mouth that became infected and required surgery. He continued to suffer intense pain and severe bleeding. Doctors in Rustavi were unable to determine the cause and referred him to the Tbilisi Neurological Institute.

There, doctors initially refused to diagnose and treat him until they knew how he had sustained his injuries. After finding out that he had been beaten by the police, Levan's wife was told by an official that the doctors at the Neurological Institute complained about the beating to the Rustavi Ministry of Internal Affairs. They took x-rays and found that Levan had sustained a skull fracture, and kept him in the hospital for five days for treatment.

The police officers responsible for the beatings were put under procuracy investigation as a result of the complaint from the Tbilisi Neurological Institute, but a Rustavi-based Ministry of Health forensic medical examiner, who examined Levan as part of this investigation, concluded that his injuries were light, despite the evidence of the skullfracture. This tended to support the police officers' assertion that they had not severely beaten Levan, but only subdued him when he resisted arrest.

Even after his treatment at the Tbilisi Neurological Institute, Levan continued to experience pain, and his wife sought further treatment for him in Rustavi. However, she could not obtain copies of his original x-rays. She approached doctors at the Tbilisi Neurological Institute three times seeking copies of the x-rays, but was refused each time. She found their reluctance odd in view of their previous concern, and feared that they might have been pressured to withhold the x-rays. The police officers responsible for the beatings remained at large while the procuracy investigated them.

Attempts at Reform Undermined

Growing concern on the part of the legal community and nongovernmental organizations regarding the procuracy's control of access to expert opinion during criminal proceedings, and complaints regarding the impartiality of state-employed experts, has prompted attempts at reform. However, efforts to provide for more impartial expert opinion have not proved successful in the area of forensic medical evidence.

As noted above, one example of such a reform is article 364, which allows the defense, and other parties such as victims, to obtain and present "alternative" expert opinions from independent experts not employed by the government. This provision governs all types of expert opinion and stipulates that the defense need only inform the procuracy if it is not satisfied with the expert examination that has been ordered by the procuracy or other investigator and provided by government experts.

Zviad Kordzadze, a defense lawyer in private practice and member of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, told Human Rights Watch that he and other lawyers are currently actively using these provisions to obtain "alternative" independent expert opinions on certain disputed issues, citing a case in which he had been able to obtain a review of financial documents by an accounting expert who refuted the government's experts.56 He praised the provisions allowing for independent expert examination, noting that the independent assessment led to the eventual exoneration of his client. However, Kordzadze added that in the case of forensic medical examinations, regardless of the provisions in the code, no such alternative independent opinions are available in practice to defense lawyers.

Other provisions in the code shed light on the various obstacles to obtaining examinations from independent forensic medical doctors. Articles 96 and 359 of the code discuss the role of expert testimony. Article 96 (2), a general provision that governs the testimony of all types of experts, states that both those individuals working for an official expert institution (under state control), and those private individuals who are licensed, but who do not work at such facilities, may render expert opinion in court.57 Article 359 (2), which governs forensic medical and criminal experts specifically, also states that expert analysis can be carried out by a state institution, or in particular cases by a private individual, although it does not elaborate on what such particular cases might be.

A recently adopted presidential decree regarding licenses for examiners stipulates that a forensic medical doctor must be an employee of a state-licensed institution in order for the forensic doctor to hold a licence. The licensingdecree, reported to have been re-adopted in October 1999, precludes those forensic medical doctors who do not work at a state forensic medical institution from rendering opinions as evidence in court.58

In the very limited instances known to Human Rights Watch in which individuals have attempted to use the code's provisions on "alternative" independent expert opinion to obtain independent forensic medical evidence, these independent opinions have been challenged in court by officials of the Ministry of Health forensic service, the procuracy, or one of the parties in the case due to the licensing decree.

At least one doctor, Maya Nikoleishvili, a former Ministry of Health forensic medical examiner, has attempted to testify in court cases as a forensic medical expert even though she is currently not a state employee. Nikoleishvili, with thirteen years of experience in forensic medical science in St. Petersburg and Tbilisi, reported that her testimony is frequently subject to challenge by officials of the Ministry of Health forensic medical examiners, the procuracy, or by one of the parties in a case.59 She noted that some judges refused to admit her testimony, citing the existence of the decree, but did give an example of the case of one judge in Zestaponi who ignored the licensing decree, cited the provision in the criminal procedure code allowing for independent expert opinion, and allowed her testimony into evidence. Nikoleishvili stated that in this case she had been retained by the victim's family, and that her testimony bolstered the procuracy's position.

Nikoleishvili noted that, in several cases she had worked on, officials of the Ministry of Health forensic medical examiner's office had testified, and shown judges the presidential decree to preclude her from testifying:

At the trials, they have been telling me, "you have no license, you have no right to do this." But when I say I am knowledgeable, that I'm qualified, they say, "no, show your license," and I've tried to convince them that knowledge is more important, but it doesn't make a difference. Before I used to tell them that even the state experts don't have licenses, but after this [October] decree, the state examiners now automatically have licenses.60

Thus, despite the code's seeming acceptance of independent forensic medical opinion, the licensing regulation has precluded the testimony of forensic medical doctors not employed by the state from being admissible in court in all but a very limited number of cases.

Nikoleishvili and other lawyers interviewed by Human Rights Watch noted that a significant factor hindering detainees from requesting an examination is the fear that they will remain in a detention facility and will be subject to retaliation by authorities if they complain and ask for examination to substantiate a complaint of abuse. It is unclear whether the transfer in January 2000 of detention facilities from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to the authority of the Ministry of Justice will result in any substantial improvement in the treatment of detainees, or in a commitment to protect detainees from official retaliation for complaining of abuse. A factor that adds to this concern is the absence of any provision in the code or the Georgian Law on Imprisonment allowing detainees to be examined or treated by their own doctor while in detention.

Nikoleishvili noted that in practice, family members are usually more willing to demand examination in cases in which a detainee has died in custody. However, pressure and threats from investigators can discourage family members from seeking examination even in a case when the detainee has died.

Nikoleishvili cited the case of Zaza Tsotsolashvili, who fell to his death from the sixth-floor window of the Ministry of Internal Affairs headquarters on December 4, 1999. Ministry of Internal Affairs staff claimed that Tsotsolashvili committed suicide by jumping out of a window during questioning. (Tsotsolashvili is the sixth detainee known to Human Rights Watch to have fallen out of a window under suspicious circumstances while in the custody of the Ministry of Internal Affairs since 1995. In April 1999, Human Rights Watch wrote to the Georgian authorities about the five previous cases.61) Nikoleishvili stated that family members had told her after Tsotsolashvili's death that they had been threatened by procuracy officials and warned not to ask her to examine the body or even attend the examination. She said that procuracy officials had two of Tsotsolashvili's brothers under investigation at the time and that the family greatly feared that the procuracy would retaliate against the two other sons if signs of abuse were discovered on Tsotsolashvili's body.

Nikoleishvili also stated that she believed investigators were resistant to independent medical examinations because the conclusions of such examinations could make it difficult for investigators to solicit bribes from detainees.62 She noted that, when a suspect or a family member was able to pay a bribe, the investigator would often write his report so as to lead to reduced charges, or exoneration at trial. In such cases, investigators did not want the family of a crime victim to obtain independent expert opinion that would demonstrate that the accused should have been given higher charges (for instance, premeditated murder in cases when investigator might be bribed to deem the case to be self-defense).

The accused person, the accused party [is the one who] pays. In one case, two boys were fighting and one died. Money is paid to [the investigators to] write a statement that this person isn't responsible...when the code goes toward the direction of allowing independent examinations, and the judges rule according to the evidence and to justice, it will be a source of decreasing corruption because currently they are able to guarantee to people that if they pay they can write things for them and help them, but after that, they [will not be able to] guarantee that if they write something, that is the way it [the case] is going to be decided.63

As noted above, the code contains no provision regarding a detainee's right to be visited and treated by his own doctor, as required under international standards.64 Such a provision would be an important safeguard for pre-trial detainees, since one's own doctor might be more willing to testify as to the nature of injuries. However, Constitutional Court judge Gia Meparishvili, one of the principal authors of the code, told Human Rights Watch that allowing detainees the right to be treated by their own doctors was unnecessary because under article 73 (f), the code gives adetainee the right to request a free medical examination after the first interrogation.65 The code does not specify who will perform the examination, but Meparishvili told Human Rights Watch that this examination will be provided by Ministry of Health doctors. Human Rights Watch welcomes the provision of a free medical examination for those who cannot afford one, but does not view this provision as a substitute for a detainee's right to be visited and treated by his or her own doctor as called for under international standards.

36 Ministry of Health regulations currently in force regulate the work of state forensic medical examiners in Georgia. Article 24 of the U.S.S.R. Ministry of Health Decree No. 1208, December 11, 1978, entitled, "Rules on Forensic Medical Examination on the Degree of Bodily Injury," states, "A forensic medical expert does not qualify injuries as abuse or torture; a decision on this issue is within the competence of the inquest investigation, preliminary investigation and courts. Forensic medical examiners should determine only [the following]: 1.) The fact of the injuries existence and their character; 2.) The age of the injuries; 3.) The device with which the injuries were made and the manner in which they were made."

37 Article 366 of the code is entitled, "The Rights of Suspects, Accused, and Victims Regarding Appointment and Holding of Expert Examination." Point (f) of article 366 allows suspects, those accused and victims "to attend expert examination only with the permission of inquiry investigator, investigator or procurator; to give clarifications to the expert, and after receiving the expert's concluding statement, to ask the expert for explanation on methods used and the results."

38 Article 364 reads, "A party is entitled to obtain expert analysis at his own initiative and expense in order to determine the circumstances, which in his opinion may facilitate defending his own interests. The party must immediately inform inquest investigator, investigator or procurator in charge of the criminal case about the expert analysis and its object. [Eds. note: objects that are subject to expert analysis are listed in article 360, and they may include physical evidence, the body of a live person, the mental condition of a person, corpses, and documents.] The expertise institution is obliged to hold an expert analysis [that is] appointed and paid for by [one of] the parties. By demand of [one of] the parties, the expert's concluding statement should be attached to the criminal case and assessed together with other evidence."

39 Article 3 of the Ministry of Health Rules on Forensic Medical Examination on the Degree of Bodily Injury, states, "Forensic medical examination to establish a degree of bodily injury is conducted only by resolution of the inquest investigator, investigator, procurator or court's decision. Forensic medical examination can be carried out by the written request of the procuracy, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Committee of State Security, and judges."

40 Human Rights Watch has a copy of the petition on file.

41 Human Rights Watch interview, Tbilisi, July 19, 1999.

42 Other lawyers interviewed recounted similar experiences with officials regarding replies to petitions and complaints. They stated that they would address a petition or complaint to the appropriate investigator or procuracy official, only to receive a refusal from an official other than to whom it had been addressed. If the lawyer then sought to appeal the refusal to a higher-level procuracy official, the official would not accept the petition and instruct the lawyer to obtain a refusal from the official to whom they had originally submitted the complaint before it would be considered at a higher level.

43 Human Rights Watch interview, Tbilisi, July 29, 1999.

44 Shukashvili's mother reported that police harassment continues. She was quoted as stating that the police had approached their neighbors to request that they file a false accusation that her son was responsible for a theft in the neighborhood as a pretext to detain him. "Mtsatsminda Police Are Trying To Send My Son Back to Prison," Resonanzi, February 18, 2000.

45 Human Rights Watch interview, Tbilisi, December 16, 1999. Beqauri requested that the detainee's name be withheld because the case was pending.

46 Human Rights Watch interview, Tbilisi, February 10, 2000.

47 This footage was viewed by Human Rights Watch.

48 Human Rights Watch interview with Levan Buadze, Tbilisi, February 17, 2000.

49 "Alavidze Blames the Guard Service for Failure to Transfer Kartvelishvili," Seven Days, February 18, 2000.

50 "Soso Alavidze Will Not Apologize Even on Elene Tevdoradze's Insistence," Akhali Taoba, February 18, 2000.

51 The Ministries of Justice, Internal Affairs, and State Security each have their own facilities for expert analysis. These facilities do not provide medical examinations, but conduct expert laboratory analysis of ballistics and fire arms, finger prints, fiber and other substances, as well as in other subjects such as accounting. The Ministry of Justice facility is open to the public, and provides services for a fee, while the facilities of the Ministries of Internal Affairs and State Security are not open to the public.

A number of other entities are empowered to render expert opinion including on medical topics, but to Human Rights Watch's knowledge have done so only in an extremely limited number of cases due to a lack of resources. The Ministry of Defense has a small facility that is authorized to render expert opinion on both medical and other topics in criminal cases involving military personnel; however, it is not clear that the facility continues to operate. The procuracy also employs a limited number of experts that render expert opinions in some areas, and the Tbilisi State University Department of Forensic Medical Science has also reportedly rendered expert medical opinion, but in a very limited number of cases.

52 Human Rights Watch interview, Tbilisi, June 10, 1999. Ms. Tsinandeliani resigned her position in August 1999, and was subsequently replaced.

53 Human Rights Watch interview, Tbilisi, March 26, 1999.

54 "Levan" is not his real name. The name of his wife has also been changed. Human Rights Watch interview, Tbilisi, December 22, 1999.

55 Human Rights Watch interview, Tbilisi, December 22, 1999.

56 Human Rights Watch interview, Tbilisi, September 8, 1999.

57 Article 96 (2) states, "Any person who has special knowledge, works for an expertise institution or is licensed, can be appointed as an expert." Article 359 (2) states, "Judicial medical and criminal expertise is conducted by an expert institution, or in particular cases, by an expert or private person from other establishments."

58 Human Rights Watch was not able to obtain a copy of this October decree. However, a copy of Presidential Decree No. 4, dated January 4, 1997, that was obtained, states that in order to be licensed as a forensic medical examiner, a doctor must be an employee of a state forensic medical facility. Zaza Topuria, a Ministry of Health official in charge of licensing medical institutions, including forensic medical institutions, told Human Rights Watch in an interview on July 16, 1999, that this decree had expired on July 1, 1999, and that it would likely be reissued in the future under the same terms. Hence, Human Rights Watch believes that the only testimony acceptable in Georgian courts to establish the cause of a detainee's injuries is that of a government forensic medical expert.

59 Human Rights Watch interview, Tbilisi, December 15, 1999.

60 Ibid.

61 The five cases raised in April 1999 include the cases of Ivane Kobalya, who fell to his death from the Tbilisi Main Police Station on March 22, 1999, and Eka Tavartkiladze, detailed above. The three other cases are Gulchora Dursunova, Akaki Iobashvili, and Zaal Ramishvili. The letter appears in Annex 2 of this report.

62 Human Rights Watch has documented other cases in which investigators physically abused a detainee, and subsequently demanded a bribe from family members to secure the detainee's release. They include the case of Jemal Teloyan, detained on May 6, 1998, reported to have been severely beaten by Guldani District police, and then released later the same day after his mother paid a bribe equivalent to approximately $1,000. In other cases, family members who have been solicited for a bribe in exchange for a detainee's release, reported the case to Human Rights Watch because they were concerned that they would not be able to raise the full amount. In such cases, they expressed fear of retaliation if they made public complaints after having paid all or part of the amount solicited.

63 Human Rights Watch interview, Tbilisi, December 15, 1999.

64 Rule 91 of the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners reads, "An untried prisoner shall be allowed to be visited and treated by his own doctor or dentist if there is reasonable ground for his application and he is able to pay any expenses incurred."

65 Human Rights Watch interview, Tbilisi, June 8, 1999. Meparishvili has since resigned his position and is currently chair of the parliamentary committee on legal affairs.

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