TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia is to speed up the transfer of Turkish prisoners to Turkey, to let them be closer to their family as they serve out the rest of their sentence.

The government wants to make it easier for people to care for a family member who is in prison, Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani told journalists Friday.

This was planned before a visit to Turkey by Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili two days ago, she added.

Tsulukiani said it is not a question of exchanging prisoners, but of transferring Turkish prisoners who have been unreasonably charged.

“If Georgia asks too, Turkey will do the same, and Georgians serving time in Turkish jails will be placed in Georgian prisons,” Tsulukiani said.

She said such a practice existed in the past too, but that the new government wants to be more active in doing it. But in the near future, in the first stage, only a few prisoners will be transferred.

“The number of prisoners which we are considering now is about 30, but only a few are ready to be transferred so far,” she said.

In order to allow the transfer, Georgia first has to convert the sentences of each prisoner, to make sure they will serve the same time in Turkey as they would have done in Georgia.

“It is necessary in order for Georgia to know what time those prisoners will serve in Turkish prisons, because the criminal code is different in the two countries and various crimes are defined in different ways.”