News

Knife re-offender stirs debate ahead of mass amnesty

by | Dec 12, 2012

President Saakashvili's spokesperson, Manana Manjgaladze, says the ex-prisoner who is suspected of a knife attack was recommended for pardon by Prison Minister Sozar Subari. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch — A man who was recently released from prison has reportedly attacked someone with a knife.

The interior ministry December 10 reported that a prisoner named Tengiz injured a 31-year old man called Tamaz with knife and escaped from the scene. The crime took place in downtown Tbilisi on December 9.

But Tengiz was soon detained on the basis of the victim’s description. He was holding a bloody knife and according to the ministry had traces of blood on his face.

Under normal circumstances, it would be no sensation that a former convict relapses into crime. Studies have shown that 16 percent of people released from prison, will commit another crime, according to Prison Minister Sozar Subari.

But right now, in Georgia, this is a touchy issue, because the government is preparing to release 6 500 prisoners in a mass amnesty, while Prime Minister Ivanishvili says people will have to deal with a temporary rise in crime as a result.

Tengiz’ record shows that in the past he was a follower of the Georgian mafia, the so-called ‘thief’ tradition, and has been convicted many times.

In 2007, he was sentenced to eleven years in jail for burglary.

But December 7, President Saakashvili pardoned him.

Tuesday, the prison ministry released a statement explaining the reasons for why this prisoner was released. Tengiz was on the list of prisoners with a difficult health condition and remaining in prison could put his health in danger; therefore he was released, after a request by the prison minister.

“It is not correct to hold person in severe health condition in prison,” a statement by the prison ministry says.

There were 88 ill persons on the list.

Manana Manjgaladze, spokesperson for President Saakashvili, confirmed the same version of events; that Prison Minsiter Sozar Subari had put the prisoner in question on the list of people recommended for pardoning. She said Subari several times has appealed to the president to release prisoners with health problems.

The high number of prisoners in Georgia – approximately 24 000 – has been a subject of criticism for the previous government. The new government, which was elected in October, decided to liberalize the crime policy and introduce a mass amnesty, which has already been confirmed by parliament.

In the last two months more than 1 500 prisoners have left the prisons. The government’s opponents claim that there will be a rise in the crime level and the population will be put in danger; but Prime Minister Ivanishvili has twice said that this is done for humane reasons and even though right after the amnesty is enforced there may be a slight rise in crime, people should adjust to it.



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