A former interior minister of Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia has committed suicide to avoid arrest for allegedly trying to kill the enclave’s leader, local media reported Wednesday.
Almasbey Kchach shot himself at his house in the town of Gagra on Tuesday after police arrived to arrest him for his alleged involvement in plotting to ambush Abkhaz leader Alexander Ankvab’s motorcade in February, reports said.
“The body of Almasbey Kchach was found on a bed in the bedroom, clothed, with a pistol in his hand,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement reported by local official news agency Apsnypress.
The agency reported that police said they had evidence that Kchach, who served as interior minister from 1996 to 2003 and ran for the vice-presidency in 2009, was involved in organising the attack on the Abkhaz leader.
Two bodyguards died of wounds sustained in the ambush — the sixth attempt on Ankvab’s life in recent years, which he blamed on criminal gangs linked to political circles seeking to take control of the Russian-backed rebel region.
Four men were sentenced to pre-trial detention last week for suspected involvement in the assassination bid.
Abkhaz separatists declared independence after driving out Georgian forces in a civil war in the 1990s that killed several thousand people and drove a quarter of a million, mostly ethnic Georgians, out of the region.
Moscow recognised Abkhazia as independent in the wake of Russia’s brief war with Georgia in 2008 and permanently stationed thousands of troops at military bases there — a move that Tbilisi describes as occupation.
But with the exception of a handful of far-flung states, the rest of the world still regards Abkhazia as part of Georgian territory.