After protests sparked by video footages, released late on 18 September, which featured abuse of inmates in prison No8 in Gldani District, Tbilisi, the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili said: “What happened in Gldan Prison is an outrageous act targeting human dignity and rights. Those who organized, implemented and allowed it to happen deserve the strictest punishment and they will spend many years in prison.”
On September 18, two Tbilisi-based TV-stations, Maestro and Channel 9, aired shocking videos, depicting torture, beating and rape of prisoners in No8 penitentiary facility.
“I promise that those who were responsible for avoiding it will be dismissed and those who committed it will spend many years in jail”, Saakashvili said.
Shortly after the release of the videos the Minister of Execution of Sentences and Corrections Khatuna Kalmakelidze fired Davit Chakua, the Chairman of the Penitentiary Department. The very next day, on 19 September, the Minister filed her resignation.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs was the first to release a statement about the videos aired by Maestro and Channel 9. As the Ministry reports, several prison employees acted in accordance with a certain criminal plan and treated prisoners brutally. The videos were staged and filmed in exchange for money. The deal was reportedly arranged by Tamaz Tamazashvili, an inmate serving his term in the same prison facility.
The Interior Ministry has already detained some of the employees involved in abuse of prisoners, among them Levan Purtskhvanidze, the head of the security department of the No8 Prison, controller Levan Pkhaladze and inspector Boris Parulava. According to the Ministry, one of the former guards of the same prison, Vladimer Bedukadze, is currently on the wanted list.
The situation in the Gldani Prison has been a focus of Public Defender’s annual reports of the past few years. Speaking on Maestro TV on 18 September, Giorgi Tughushi, the Public Defender of Georgia, said: “We have talked about the Gldani jail for years. Very serious problems have been observed in this prison facility with regard to violation of the rights of prisoners… Unfortunately, we paid no attention to the problem until it has been shown in video footages”, Tughushi said.
According to the Public Defender, much attention must also be paid to No2 prison facility because similar facts take place there as well.
The data provided by the Public Defender show that 114 prisoners died in 2011 of which 86 died in Gldani No8 prison facility.