bacho akhalaia - tbilisi court iii - 2013-02-28

Bacho Akhalaia will be charged with setting off a prison riot in 2006 which claimed the lives of seven prisoners. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–A former government minister and close Saakashvili ally will be charged with misconduct during the country’s largest prison riot in 2006 which caused seven deaths.

The Prosecutor’s Office today presented details of the prison riot and charged Bacho Akhalaia, who at the time was prison minister.

He will be charged with abuse of powers, a charge he already has been handed, illegal deprivation of liberty, torture and abusing powers, for another case, which Georgian Criminal Law Code defines as exceeding authority granted by the official position.

The new details from 2006 involves charges that Bacho Akhalia, together with Megis Kardafa, former chairman of the military police department and several other employees, brutally beat three prisoners in front of other prisoners, which caused them to protest, and the situation developed into a riot.

Kardava’s location is currently unknown. Like many other former government members, he left the country after the National Movement’s election defeat in the parliamentary election in October, 2012.

Khatuna Paichadze, spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office, at a briefing Friday presented details of the investigation of the ervents March 26-27, 2006.

Akhalaia was at the time reported to have beaten prisoners while being drunk, and in order to discredit those accusations, he prepared a plan with two other persons. It involved the recording of prisoners who said Akhalaia had beat them. This recording would then be handed over to Nana Kakabadze, a well-known human rights activist, who could be expected to tell it to the media. The second half of the plan was to publish a video tape which would reveal that the beating of prisoners was actually staged in order to discredit him.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Akhalaia in 2006 sent them a letter which was part of this plan, writing that he had information that a riot was planned by criminal authorities March 25 at a prison hospital, and he asked for permission to allow video recording at the prison hospital, which was granted.

But the plan went wrong, and the persons who were to read a text in front of the cameras kept silent. Akhalaia decided to punish the two of them, and two additional persons who had nothing to do with this story. On March 17, 2006, all of them were brought to the office of the prison director.

The former minister told them they needed to be punished. He brought one of them, Mamardashvili, in front of other prisoners and started cutting his hair. Afterward, he asked Avaliani what date it was.

“Avaliani answered he knew it well, to which Akhalaia spit in his face and Avaliani slapped Akhalaia in the face,” according to prosecutors. Then Akhalaia, Kardava and a few others ‘brutally beat’ them.

Bacho Akhalaia used his transmitter to call for a special unit, who took the beaten prisoners to the first floor of the prison hospital and then to the yard of the building, where again they were beaten, this time in front of other prisoners.

“Such illegal actions by Bacho Akhalaia and other administration employees was followed by the active protest of prisoners, which developed into a prison riot.”

Akhalaia’s lawyer has not yet commented on these new charges. Tbilisi City Court is currently reviewing another case against the former minister.