GEO Prime Minister believes release of torturer unacceptable

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"There cannot be any type of special circumstance which may constitute the ground for a complete release of a person involved in torture from criminal responsibility," Georgia's Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says in his address to Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili, which was published on 8 July, and asks him to review decisions taken on the case of the prison scandal.

In June, the Prosecutor's Office made plea bargains with eight persons accused of torture and inhumane treatment of inmates whilst entirely released Vladimer Bedukadze from criminal responsibility "for his special cooperation" with the investigation. These people participated in torture of inmates featured in appalling prison videos which were released just two weeks before the parliamentary elections in October 2012.

To Tabula's question during a press conference held by the prime minister on 3 July, as to whether the release of or plea bargaining with those people who tortured inmates will encourage torture in future, Bidzina Ivanishvili responded with a question: "Were plea bargains made with those who had been involved in torture [of inmates] too?"

Tabula provides the complete text of the statement released by Bidzina Ivanishvili on 8 July:

"As society is aware, upon the motion of Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili, the court took a decision on a complete release of [Vladimer] Bedukadze, accused of multiple instances of torture and inhumane treatment of inmates, from criminal responsibility. I learned about this fact later, from representatives of media. Asked to assess this decision I promised them to make a statement after detailed inquiry about the case, in which I would express my personal attitude towards this issue. I have never interfered, and do not intend to interfere in any form in future, into the activity of the prosecutor's office. It is clear that the unprecedented degree of independence which the political leadership has given to the prosecutor's office over the past months, may, theoretically, contain threats and risks of certain mistakes [on the part of prosecutor's office], but I still believe that the public interest of independence of prosecutor's office largely outweighs those negative consequences which may result from incorrect and unjustified decisions on separate cases.

"As regards the case of Bedukadze, I studied all those arguments which constituted the ground for the decision [on the release of Bedukadze from criminal responsibility] and would like to state clearly that, for me personally, those arguments are insufficient and unconvincing. I believe that there cannot be any type of special circumstance which may constitute the ground for a complete release of a person involved in torture from criminal responsibility.

"At the same time, the loyalty displayed towards other persons involved in this case, which, in my opinion, was expressed in inadequately lenient punishments, left me with the feeling of dissatisfaction.

"I believe this is unacceptable especially when gross and mass violation of human rights was an established practice under the previous government. In my assessment, these decisions will undermine efforts undertaken for the aim of preventing this gravest crime in future.

"I would like to ask Georgia's Chief Prosecutor - who in contrast to the judiciary is a representative of the executive and hence, I can directly address him – to critically review those decisions once again and if he shares my opinion, to try to find legal means for their review."

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