Secret tapes

Footage, secretly taped in Bacho Akhalaia's prison cell, released

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Akhalaia, nominee for the post of Georgia's Interior Minister, listens during a meeting in parliament in Tbilisi Photo: David Mdzinarishvili / REUTERS

On 4 October Kakheti Information Center released secret video footage recorded in the prison cell of the former Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia. According to Kakheti Information Center, the video was taped in November, 2012. The Center reported that the material contained several hours of footage, however the agency released only parts of the tape. The footage was allegedly taped in the penitentiary facility #7 and it depicts members of the civil monitoring group members, and MP Akaki Minashvili visiting Bacho Akhalaia in his prison cell.

The footage was obtained by Gela Mtivlishvili, member of the monitoring group. According to Mtivlishvili, the group members were aware of the fact that there was a video camera installed in Akhalaia's cell, however they did not know that the audio was being recorded as well. Speaking to Tabula, Mtivlishvili refrained from naming the person who provided the footage, however, he said a number of persons had seen the material before him.

Akhalaia's lawyers objected to the release of the secret video footage and demanded launching an investigation into the case. Lawyer Giorgi Oniani said the tapes were illegal, as no court permission had been issued to make them.

According to lawyer Romeo Sajaia, Akhalaia had agreed to only the visual control of the the cell. Sajaia said that during visual control, no recordings are being made and an inmate is watched on a monitor only. The lawyer claimed that the rights of the monitoring group and the Parliament member were violated. "Court permission is needed to make any type of video and audio recordings. Akhalaia did not agree on making any audio or video tapes. Whatever the Chairman of the Penitentiary Department says, is a lie. No audio recordings are being made in any other case, let them show us others' recordings as well then," Sajaia said.

The lawyers said Akhalaia will make an official statement through his official Facebook page about the release of secret audio and vide tapes.

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