TBILISI, DFWatch – Shortly after rumours of a raid inside the largest prison in the country, Georgia’s Prison Ministry reports of yet another prisoner death. The Patriarch calls on prison directors to treat inmates with more respect.

The Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance on Sunday published a statement saying that a prisoner aged 21 ‘unexpectedly died’ at a hospital. According to preliminary information, the cause of death was heart attack.

Local media quote the dead prisoner’s family members, saying they suspect that the official version is untrue. They also say that an autopsy was conducted without their permission.

The Ministry says a forensic examination is scheduled and the results will become known after it is finished.

The deceased was serving time in Ksani prison, and died at Gldani prison hospital.

Friday evening there were unconfirmed reports about possible deaths at No 8 correctional facility in Gldani in northersn Tbilisi. Facebook users claimed that a special unit had entered the prison and beaten prisoners, but this was denied by the ministry.

On Sunday, Patriarch Ilia II appealed to the heads of prisons to show more respect towards prisoners.

“There are reports about our prisoners being treated improperly. I want to say that in no case is it correct to assault them; even more, physical assault is not correct. No one is insured that they may be in the same situation and become prisoners,” he said, adding that these are only youngsters, who should at some time return to their families.

The Patriarch and the Georgian Church are among the most trusted institutions in Georgia, according to surveys, with a trust rating varying from 68 to 95 percent.

As for the prison deaths, the number of dead prisoners has increased dramatically, especially the last two years.

There have been several controversial cases about suspicious prisoner deaths in 2012.