vano merabishvili

Vano Merabishvili. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–The Prison Ministry in Georgia says it did not notice anything interesting while looking into claims made by former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili that he was taken out of his cell at night and threatened by the chief prosecutor.

The ministry’s general inspection started studying the case more than a week ago, including speaking directly with Merabishvili and questioning him about what happened.

During the inquest, the general inspection seized 377 Gb of video footage recorded by 18 different surveillance cameras which are located in Prison No 9, where Merabishvili is incarcerated, and at the prison department. The footage was recorded December 13-14, 2013.

“While observing the footage there wasn’t discovered interesting factual conditions for the case,” the general inspection’s statement reads.

It also says that at on December 17, the day the former minister made his statement about being brought out from his cell, the December 13-14 footage from the surveillance cameras inside the prison didn’t exist.

According to the statement, such recordings are automatically deleted after 24 hours.

During the inquest, the general inspection questioned employees at the prison, who categorically denied that Merabishvili left the prison on December 14.

Merabishivli’s lawyer Davit Khazhalia says the Prison Ministry’s goal was not to confirm facts which Merabishivli described in his statement and they were not confirmed.

He told Interpressnews that he assumed in the beginning that the inquest wouldn’t be able to find out anything.

The lawyer says that he was sure the Prison Ministry wouldn’t show any footage and would say that it was deleted.

“As for questioning prison employees, it is clear, due to the fact that they work in this system, they wouldn’t give any explanations which would be harmful to the system,” he added.

Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili said Wednesday that he has read the Prison Ministry’s statement and thinks there still are many unanswered questions surrounding the case. He thinks it is necessary that the Chief Prosecutor’s office starts an investigation.

Georgian prosecutors are conducting a new investigation of the death of Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania in 2005, and Merabishvili said he was pressured to help solve the Zhvania case or else he would get worse conditions in jail and his friends and relatives might be arrested.