TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office Wednesday reported that it had arrested the twelfth person so far for involvement in prison torture after a series of videos one week ago documented physical and sexual abuse by staff against inmates.
Mamuka Chkhitunadze was controller at Gldani prison, also known as Prison Number 8, which is where most of the latest years’ controversial torture and death cases have taken place. He was arrested on torture charges.
The investigation continues as 12 persons have so far been arrested. Meanwhile, prisoners continue to report that some of the prison guards engaged in torture are still going to work as usual.
On Tuesday, the newly appointed prison minister Giorgi Tughushi, who was formerly public defender, said at a briefing that two cases of suicide attempt were observed after the shocking footage showing torture of prisoners was shown on TV.
Tughushi said some prisoners were told that they were seen in this footage, which caused such a reaction.
The minister called on the media to avoid releasing video footage, as it puts prisoners in danger.
He also said that if more footage appears, they can anonymously transfer it to prosecutor’s office or the prison ministry. He added that the Prison Ministry has discovered evidence of even more serious abuse than what has been seen on TV.
Meanwhile, the Public Defender’s Office continues observing prisons all over Georgia. Tuesday the ombudsman reported that there had been no harassment from the administration the last few days in the prison in Zugdidi in western Georgia, according to prisoners.
Prisoners sent an appeal to the ombudsman indicating all employees who were engaged in all kinds of mistreatment in the past. The appeal is signed by seven prisoners. They blame the director of the facility Amiran Janashia, Former Deputy Director Dimitry Jichonaia and ten other employees.
President Mikheil Saakashvili and Tugushi decided that within ten days, a new independent investigative commission will be set up on, which will study human rights violations in the prison system.
It has not been decided yet how many people will be in commission, but there will be international experts, observers, human right activists, one prosecutor who hasn’t worked on such cases yet, a representative of a relevant NGO, the prison minister himself or someone he authorizes, and a member of the parliament’s human rights committee.