News

Prison death was caused by illness, not torture

by | May 4, 2012

TBLISI, DFWatch – An independent medical expert says the injuries seen on photos of a prisoner’s dead body were caused by a disease which was not properly treated.

Zurab Delianidze died at Gldani prison hospital in Tbilisi. Media learned about his death from family members, who suspect that he was tortured and distributed photos of the corpse.

Alexandre Gejadze, an independent expert, was taken to Kobuleti, Delianidze’s hometown to observe the body. The opposition coalition Georgian Dream organized his visit.

In an interview with news website Netgazeti, the expert explains that he conducted visual examination.

“The result is that there are no traces of torture or physical violence on the body. The bruises which the family considered signs of violence, are lesions in the skin as a result of lying for 2-3 weeks,” he says.

There is suspicion that he wasn’t properly treated at the hospital.

The results of the Court inquest will become known in one month, and that will determine the official cause of death.

On Thursday, the Prison Ministry released a statement, which explained that Zurab Delianidze had a severe form of venereal disease, which led to him being transferred to hospital; however treatment didn’t help him and he died.

Family members say that they visited the prisoner a few months ago and at that time he was not feeling unwell. They also suspect that the police told them about his death one week later than he had actually died.

Today the Public Defender accused the Prison Ministry of violating the rights of Delianidze and his family by reporting about his health problems.

Giorgi Tughushi thinks that making public information about a disease which is transferred through sexual activity is a special case which not only violates the rights of a dead person, but also is harmful to his closest family, relatives and friends.

The ombudsman made reference to legislative norms and laws which restrict the publishing of this kind of information about any person.

Eka Popkhadze, a lawyer from Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association, says that this kind of information is not public, but there can be exceptions if the public interest is high.

“However, the information published by the ministry was vague, raising even more questions. As a result, it can be considered that making information public was unnecessary and that they violated the prisoner’s rights.”

Prison Minister Khatuna Kalmakhelidze today said Delianidze’s death is very sad.

“Personally for me all these questions on this issue are absolutely legitimate. Of course, our ministry immediately started an investigation, but we considered it reasonable to hand the investigation over to the Prosecutor’s Office, where an investigation is currently in progress.”

She says it’s important that each detail is made known immediately.

“We are cooperating with the Public Defender and we salute the involvement of independent experts.”

Delianidze is the 143th prisoner who has died in the latest two years in Georgia. Today, another prisoner, Tengiz Belkania, died of aids in prison. He was arrested for possession of drugs and sentenced to 8 years in jail. He had served two years.



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