TBILISI, DFWatch – The prison ministry in Georgia says about a prisoner with kidney problems who was beaten before and after his operation, that ‘the patient’s health condition is satisfactory’.

In a rare exception, the ministry Wednesday publicly made comments to a case about suspected prisoner abuse. The statement was their first comment about the case which began more than a week ago.

It started when lawyer Kakhaber Mumladze November 29 appealed for help on behalf of his client, prisoner Kakhaber Baratashvili, to the Ombudsman’s office and Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA). According to Mumladze, his client has been subjected to threats and physical attacks while in custody.

Late night on November 27 the prisoner was transferred to a medical facility because of kidney problems. Both GYLA and the Ombudsman say that they were informed that in the evening of November 28 Baratashvili had unbearable pain and called for a doctor.

“The detainee says that no one came for a half hour. Because of the unbearable pain he was forced to knock on the cell door. A few employees entered his cell and threw him down and beat him,” the Ombudsman reports.

Later, according to Baratashvili, his unbearable pain continued. Employees again entered his cell, chained him and took him down to the morgue, where he was thrown down on the concrete floor and beaten.

GYLA says in a statement that according to Baratashvili’s version, hospital staff forced him to sign a statement indicating that the he had inflicted injuries to himself because of the unbearable pains.

“There was a threat from the hospital staff that in case the truth became known, there would possibly be discovered illegal things, which would be a reason to prolong his detention in prison,” GYLA’s statement says, based on Baratashvili’s retelling of what happened to him.

The statement was published in the morning of December 6. Later the same day, GYLA released another statement regarding the case, saying that the physical abuse by officials against Baratashvili had been repeated and that they also had threatened his family.

The Prison Ministry says that on November 30 Baratashvili underwent surgery.

“At present, the patient’s health condition is stable and is under the constant supervision of medical personnel.”

But GYLA’s second statement says that the beating was repeated in the evening after the surgery on December 4.

The Georgian prison ministry, known for almost never publicly commenting on cases of abuse in their detention facilities, says that there is an investigation underway, in the form of a court appointed medical examination.

Baratashvili was sentenced on March 24, 2006, to 8 years in prison. He has been imprisoned since December 24, 2006, in # 17 Rustavi semi-open type detention facility.