Tskhinvali Inmate Death Case Suspects Released on Parole

Occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia released on parole four police officers, suspected in the high-profile death case of 28-year-old inmate Inal Jabiev, from pre-trial detention. Two suspected officers still remain in custody.

Tskhinvali-based RES news agency cited on June 7 the prosecution as saying that the detainees’ cases were requalified as “moderate” crimes following results of “the repeated forensic medical examination.” The prosecution explained that the release on parole does not entail termination of the criminal prosecution.

The release came after the suspects, denying charges, arranged two hunger strikes in May and early June.

A total of seven police officers were arrested in late August of last year in relation to the young inmate’s death of Inal Jabiev – a 28-year-old man who was detained on charges of attempted murder of the occupied region’s interior minister Igor Naniev.

Controversial Plot Twist – Forensic Expert Faces Investigation

In another controversial turn, on June 5, Tskhinvali’s prosecution opened a criminal investigation against local forensic medical expert Zarina Dzagoeva, whose preliminary examination certificate, dated August 30, 2020, said Jabiev died on August 28 after acute heart failure, which developed as a result of the received injury. The prosecution claims Dzagoeva deliberately falsified data.

Two other examinations, commissioned by the South Ossetian prosecution, showed different results. The second one by Russian Defense Ministry’s forensic experts said the inmate died as a result of drug withdrawal. The third examination, carried out to solve the discrepancy, coincided with the second.

Tskhinvali prosecutor’s office said earlier that it pursued pre-investigative checks into Dzagoeva’s examination results after the detained police officers appealed it, suspecting Dzagoeva acted under pressure from one of the prosecutors to forge the data.

Dzagoeva denies charges. She pleaded with the occupied region’s parliament for help today, saying she is facing pressure from the investigation. “I want you to protect me within the framework of the law.”

The Background

The death of Jabiev, allegedly at the hands of police, led to hundreds, including South Ossetian deputies to rally at Tskhinvali’s central square, resulting in the resignation of ‘prime minister’ Erik Pukhaev and the dismissal of the occupied region’s government in late August 2020, resulting in months-long political crisis.

Opposition deputies launched a boycott in September, suspending the work of the Tskhinvali parliament through March 2021, until the Russian involvement brought them to the legislature. They demanded a fair investigation, as well as the resignation of former prosecutor general Uruzmag Jagaev. Tskhinvali leader Anatoly Bibilov refused to dismiss Jagaev, and the latter left in April as his term expired.

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