A Georgian court has charged the mother and uncle of 14-year-old Aitaj Shakhmarova, who was murdered in early October, with forced marriage of a minor.

Local media reported on Friday that the minor was kidnapped and forced into marriage by 27-year-old Asim Aslanov two months before the incident and was shot dead as she tried to escape on October 6.

Police arrested Asim Aslanov on Tuesday after a four-day search, a day after the Telavi District Court calculated Aslanov in absentia.

Aslanov admitted in court on Wednesday to the murder of the girl, but specified that although he regretted the crime, it was not done intentionally.

“I’ve never handled a weapon before, I thought I was just inflicting a wound, and when I saw the blood I got scared and ran away,” Aslanov said, according to the statement TV formulas Translation. Aslanov spoke Azerbaijani. ‘I thought [the gun] was pneumatic and only made a noise. “I don’t even know how to carry a gun, I’ve never had one.”

Aslanov added that he had previously fallen from a horse and injured his head and was therefore “not conscious” when he attacked Shakhmarova. He didn’t say where he got the gun from.

Aslanov is being investigated for the premeditated murder of a family member under aggravating circumstances and has been detained as a precautionary measure. If found guilty, he faces either 16 to 20 years in prison or a life sentence.

The minor’s mother and uncle were indicted by the Rustavi District Court on Wednesday and face a prison sentence of up to six years.

On Thursday, TV Pirveli reported that Shakhmarova’s father, who had been abroad, had also arrived for questioning.

What happened to Aitaj?

Shakhmarova lived in Useinkendi, a village with a predominantly ethnic Azerbaijani population in the municipality of Dmanisi. after to local media.

The day after Shakhmarova’s murder, her mother recounted reporter that the 14-year-old was kidnapped by Aslanov when she “went to the field to get a calf and this boy was hiding there.”

Her mother, whose name was not released, also said she was unable to save Shakhmarova because Aslanov had threatened to kill her.

“You kidnapped my child. This was not done with the family’s consent. I wanted to go there but the boy told me if you come here I will kill you too,” she said. “He killed my daughter because she wanted to leave.”

“The girl said to him: I’m only 14 years old, I don’t love you, leave me alone or I’ll call 112.” [the emergency services], and he killed her. “I demand that the murderer be sentenced to life in prison,” the woman said before she was charged.

The public prosecutor’s office reported on Wednesday specified The investigation revealed that Shakhamarova managed to call her mother on a stranger’s phone and inform her about her abduction after Aslanov kidnapped Shakhmarova and took her to Lambalo village in Sagarejo district.

“Although the minor’s mother and uncle learned about the serious crime against the 14-year-old girl, they believed that the minor had no right to speak out [her] “You are free to exercise your will and make a choice,” the prosecutor said. “They did not report this to law enforcement and forced the child to live with the abductor.”

[Read more: Georgia’s early marriages: destinies blackened in white dresses]

RFE/RL reported that Shakhmarova was shot while trying to escape from Aslanov’s house in Lambalo during preparations for the wedding of her kidnapper’s cousin.

Maya Khmaladze, head of the Dmanisi Educational Resource Center, told RFE/RL that teachers and staff at Akhmarova’s school were unaware that Shakhmarova had been kidnapped and forced into marriage.

According to Khmaladze, Shakhmarova’s mother continued to stay away after the principal of Shakhmarova’s school warned that she would no longer be enrolled and stated that the child would return to school in two days as she had been absent “as a guest.” Khmaladze stressed that the child’s mother did not tell school authorities that Shakhmarova had been kidnapped or that she needed help.

TV formula reported On Thursday it was announced that the principal of Shakhmarova’s school, Gamlet Ismailovi, a member of the ruling Georgian Dream party and a member of the Dmanisi City Council, was himself accused of forcibly marrying a 15-year-old minor in 2015, while he worked as a school teacher.

Mubariz Ismailovi, a former principal of Shakhmarova’s school, confirmed the information to formula and said that although an investigation was launched at the time, no convictions were ever made.

Early marriage is a long-standing problem in Georgia remains particularly widespread in rural communities.

[Read more: Child marriage survivors in Georgia speak up about their experiences]

Numerous Reports In recent years there have been repeated cases of underage girls being kidnapped, in some cases raped and forced into early marriage, as a result of which they no longer attend school.

Ana Arganashvili, head of the Georgian human rights organization Partnership for Human Rights, told formula on Oct. 7 that out of 39 child marriage court cases in 2021-2022, 29 had a settlement signed.

“Given these statistics, we cannot convince anyone to turn to the court and trust it,” Arganashvili said.

UNFPA, the United Nations agency for sexual and reproductive health, published a study in 2022 on the issue of early marriages in Georgia, finding that 14% of all marriages involved a minor.

The investigation found that low public awareness that child marriage was illegal and harmful contributed to “most suspected crimes” not being reported to police or other state authorities.

The study also found that Georgia’s Interior Ministry had not compiled and published statistics on child marriages for 2021-2022, unlike previous years.

A public demonstration in front of the Georgian Parliament under the motto “A child is not a woman” has been announced for October 15th. The stated aim is to express solidarity with Shakhmarova and to support women and children who still experience violence.