Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Response to Human Rights Watch inquiry about use of M85 bomblets

Georgian armed forces have GRADLAR160 multiple launch rocket system and rockets of MK4 LAR160 type (with M851 bomblets) with the range of 45 kms.

These rockets were never used against civilians, civilian targets and civilian populated or nearby areas during the conflict with Russia, in South Ossetian region or beyond. The Gradlar system was used against Russian military equipment and armament marching from Rocki tunnel to Dzara road.

There were no Gradlar systems or rockets deployed in Shindisi at any moment during the hostilities or afterward. Shindisi was one of the last positions that Georgian army was holding before the disengagement and complete withdrawal from the war theatre.

No GRADLAR launchers have been destroyed during the war by enemy forces.

Since the moment of withdrawal of Georgian troops from Shindisi, Georgian armed forces have not used artillery.

The discovery of M85 bomblets in Shindisi raises a lot of suspicion, especially if there are no signs of damage caused by these bomblets. This fact demands proper investigation and Georgian side is ready to participate in and provide all necessary assistance for the conduct of such investigation. If needed, for the investigation purposes, we can provide the name of the supplier company.

We would like to receive some more information from and examine the evidence in possession of HRW in this regard.

1 - M85 dual-purpose bomblet has unique self-destruction mechanism. This important safety feature is designed to ensure that no armed duds will be left on the battlefield to endanger advancing friendly troops or civilian population; safety mechanism makes it impossible manually to arm duds inadvertently, and a highly sensitive impact fuse functions at steep angles of impact and at lower impact velocities and do not pose a seriouse threat to civilians.