PACE to look into Georgian late PM's death

Georgia Materials 5 October 2007 16:29 (UTC +04:00)

( RIA Novosti ) - The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has been asked to prepare a report on the death of Zurab Zhvania, a former Georgian prime minister.

Zhvania was found dead at a friend's home in Tbilisi in February 2005, aged 41. Gas poisoning from a faulty heater was cited as the cause of death, although his family has dismissed the findings as too hasty, containing numerous discrepancies.

Official conclusions, they said, were made the next day, which was too early for a proper inquiry into a government head's death.

European Democrat, a PACE political group, has asked the PACE Bureau to draw up a report following recent allegations by Irakly Okruashvili, a former Georgian defense minister.

The group said it was concerned by Okruashvili's assertions, in particular that Zhvania may have died in suspicious circumstances.

The recommendation was signed by 10 MEPs from five countries (the U.K., Slovakia, Iceland, Denmark and Russia).

Okruashvili, an outspoken critic of President Mikheil Saakashvili, was detained by police in late September on corruption charges, shortly after he formed an opposition movement, "For United Georgia."

He was charged with blackmail, money laundering, abuse of power, and professional negligence.

A lawyer representing the ex-minister called the arrest political, and linked it to Okruashvili's comments made in an Imedi TV interview, in which he accused President Saakashvili of corruption and an attempt to kill businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili. He also alleged Georgian authorities had covertly planned to seize control over the breakaway republic of South Ossetia in 2006.