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21 Aug, 2008 12:55

Ossetian hostage we were beaten and denied food

An Ossetian man captured near the Georgian-South Ossetian border earlier this month claims he and other hostages were beaten and starved by Georgian forces.

In an interview with RT, the captive said: “We were in Gori for four days, then they took us to Tbilisi. In Gori they repeatedly beat us. For three days we were denied bread and water. In Tbilisi they treated us better, but in Gori it was horrible”.

The former hostage is one of four who’ve been returned to Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia. He says initially there were 18 hostages in his group. He believes one of them was executed.

The captives were taken earlier this month in the village of Khetagurovo, in the Znaur region as well as from several other Ossetian enclaves near Gori.

It’s reported that some of them are not locals, but Russian citizens from North Ossetia who were visiting relatives in the region.

South Ossetian human rights ombudsman, David Sanakoyev, told Interfax on Thursday that Georgian servicemen captured a total of 27 South Ossetian residents. All were taken to Georgia.

“Many of them are alive. Many of them are contactable. The hostages are telephoning their relatives,” Sanakoyev said.

Alexander Brod, the director of the Moscow human rights bureau, has also spoken of ‘dozens of hostages held by the Georgian side’.

South Ossetian authorities have negotiated a deal whereby these hostages will be exchanged for residents of Georgian villages located near Tskhinvali. It is reported that about 59 Georgians have been released from South Ossetia, with six or seven Ossetians coming in the opposite direction.