TBILISI, DFWatch — The Georgian Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into one of the prison torture videos that shook the country two weeks before the 2012 parliamentary election.
The first of six videos was published in the morning of September 18, 2012 by the Interior Ministry and showed less serious abuse than the other five videos which were subsequently put out by a former prisoner guard.
Saturday, the Prosecutor’s Office released a statement saying their findings so far indicate that the video published by the Interior Ministry was an enactment made in order to discredit other, authentic videos which it knew were in the possession of the former prison guard Vladimer Bedukadze.
The statement notes that in the morning of September 18, the Interior Ministry published video footage which showed mistreatment of prisoners at Prison No 8 in Tbilisi. The prison director and the on-duty supervisor Vladimer Bedukadze were seen in this footage. The Interior Ministry then informed that the prisoner mistreatment had been ordered by one specific person who was serving time at the same prison and was associated with the Georgian Dream coalition, and that USD 17 000 and more footage of prison torture was found at the prison director’s office.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, this information was false.
“At the beginning of September, Zurab Adeishvili, who was then Justice Minister, learned that Vladimer Bedukadze, a former employee of Gldani Prison No 8, had brought footage of torture and mistreatment to a European country, where he planned to present it to human right activists and the media,” the statement reads.
The Justice Minister decided to defuse a political scandal by being first, and prepared an illegal plan together with the head of the prison department. Through provocation and by staging scenes they managed to make such footage, and then publicly said that Georgian Dream had ordered guards to beat and torture prisoners in jails with the help of Vladimer Bedukadze, according to the statement.
Later in the day on September 18, Georgian Dream affiliated TV9 broadcast several videos of sexual and physical abuse of prisoners mainly at prison No 8. More videos followed and were shown in many Georgian media and on the Internet, and caused massive outrage which led to weeks of street protests, and a vigil at the entrance to several prisons around Georgia, by people wanting to make sure that their children or relatives were all right.
Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia, who has been suspected of personal involvement in torture of prisoners, resigned; as did Prison Minister Khatuna Kalmakhelidze. The president appointed the ombudsman as new prison minister, who decided to allow observers into the prison for the first time through a pool system which will last until January 2013, to make sure prisoners are feeling well and that there are no more violations.