Both sides to the conflict in the disputed region of Abkhazia were said to have deliberately and arbitrarily killed non-combatant civilians. The scope of the death penalty was widened to include two new offences, and a decree authorizing summary executions in certain cases was introduced. At least 13 people were reportedly executed. The political situation remained unstable. The government resigned in August and the following month parliament suspended its activity for eight weeks during a state of emergency declared by Head of State Eduard Shevardnadze. In the disputed region of Abkhazia, in the northwest of the country, hundreds of people were reportedly killed in September when Abkhazian forces broke a July cease-fire, attacking and eventually taking the Georgian-held regional capital of Sukhumi. Tens of thousands of refugees fled the region, almost all of which quickly fell under Abkhazian control. The situation in Georgia was further complicated by the return in September of former president Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who had been ousted in January 1992. He called for the government to be overthrown, and his supporters briefly took control of large areas in the west of the country before either fleeing or surrendering. In September Georgia acceded to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols of 1977. There were dozens of reports that both sides to the conflict in Abkhazia had carried out deliberate and arbitrary killings of non-combatant civilians, although the state of emergency and other factors connected with the fighting in the region made it difficult to investigate the reports. Allegations against Georgian troops continued (see Amnesty International Report 1993) while they controlled Abkhazia. For example, in April five Abkhazian members of the Gabunia family, including two aged over 80, were reportedly killed in their house in the village of Adzyubzha. After Abkhaz forces captured Sukhumi in September, soldiers were said to have sought out Georgian civilians, tortured and killed them because of their ethnic origin. For example, it was reported that a 67-year-old Georgian man was detained in his apartment in Sukhumi by two armed men belonging to the Abkhaz forces, taken on to the balcony and beaten to death. At least one person said to have been detained solely on grounds of his ethnic origin was released during the year. Garri Pilia, an ethnic Abkhazian, had reportedly been detained by Georgian forces in August 1992 and held hostage because he was related to an opposition Abkhazian member of parliament. He was released in April. The fate of at least seven other non-Georgians said to have been detained at about the same time because of their ethnic origin was still unclear at the end of the year. Throughout the year supporters of Zviad Gamsakhurdia alleged that many of their number were imprisoned solely for their peaceful political opposition to the government, although official sources stated that they were held in connection with violent attacks which had involved loss of life. Despite official reports that the death penalty had been abolished when the 1921 Constitution was restored in 1992 (see Amnesty International Report 1993), it emerged that the criminal code had not in fact been amended: at the beginning of the year it still retained 10 offences carrying a possible death sentence. Two further offences were added to those punishable by death: mercenary activity in armed conflicts and genocide. In November Eduard Shevardnadze issued a decree authorizing, on a temporary basis, measures including summary execution for cases of banditry and looting in areas of combat activity. At least 13 people were reportedly executed. According to unofficial sources, N. Gelashvili, D. Maysuradze, V. Nikolaevili and D. Dartsmelidze were executed at Dranda prison on 19 April for attempting to seize an aircraft at Sukhumi airport. Five days after the decree on summary executions was introduced two armed supporters of Zviad Gamsakhurdia and seven local inhabitants were reported by the Interior Ministry to have been shot dead in Zugdidi for looting. Later that month the commandant of the capital, Tbilisi, was reported as saying that "several" people had been summarily executed during a curfew after refusing to present identification papers. No complete official statistics were known to have been published on the application of the death penalty in 1993. During the year Amnesty International sought further information on allegations that opposition figures were imprisoned solely for their political beliefs, and on reports that both sides to the conflict in Abkhazia had murdered non-combatant civilians. The organization also appealed to all parties to the conflict to respect human rights and basic humanitarian standards. Amnesty International expressed regret that the death penalty had not been abolished in law, in line with constitutional provisions, that its scope had been extended, and that a decree permitting summary executions had been introduced. The organization urged that this decree be rescinded, and that any other pending death sentences be commuted. No substantive replies from the Georgian authorities had been received by the end of the year. In November the Abkhazian authorities informed Amnesty International that around 40 people had been arrested and charged in connection with offences against the civilian population when their forces took control of the region.

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