TBILISI, DFWatch — Prisoners in a prison south of Tbilisi Wednesday protested, demanding the new director’s resignation.
Prisoners claim that the director Levan Aburjania, a former policeman, threatened them with torture.
Shortly before the new prison minister was approved by the new parliament, Giorgi Tughushi, the previous prison minister, gave 51 persons permission to visit prisons without going through otherwise very strict procedures.
On Wednesday some of them visited Prison No 16 and met with prisoners who say that Levan Aburjania told them he will be worse than Akhalaia.
Bacho Akhalaia has been prison minister several years ago, later defense and interior minister. Many believe that he set in place the systematic torture which was revealed in mid September. Abkhalaia resigned after the protests spurred by the airing of videos showing physical, sexual and verbal abuse of prisoners.
“Aburjania threatened to bring in special units here. He told us, he’d be worse than Akhalaia. He also said he wouldn’t use broomsticks and batons, but that he tortured people with his bare hands.”
The director himself denied this version. A reporter for Interpressnews who has access to the prisons quote him saying that some of the prisoners are trying to establish a mafia rule in the prison, that’s why the director was threatening prisoners. Aburjania says he hasn’t even spoken to prisoners.
The director says 80 percent of the former administration of his prison, which is located in the town Rustavi south of Tbilisi, have been fired.
Another problem that prisoners protest is that after the new director was appointed, the prison church was closed for them.
“If you want to pray you can pray outside,” prisoners say he told them. They say the previous director, who was appointed during Giorgi Tughushi’s short time as minister, was better as there was peace in the facility.
“We are now restricted from calling on cell phone. The new director brought back officers and administrative members who tortured us during the previous government,” prisoners say. The new director denies that he has brought back old employees.
Family members and relatives of prisoners were gathered at prison No 16 on Wednesday blocking the road. They reported that prisoners with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis have not been given medicines the last five days, after the new director was appointed.
Wednesday morning after the government session, Sozar Subari, the new prison minister, said he does not plan to fire the new director.
“So-called criminal authorities at this facility claim they will bring tension if they aren’t released. Today they demanded that the director must leave because we didn’t obey them. We will not grant such a demand.”
The minister noted that prisoners are going on hunger strike, some even sewing their mouthes shut. Their goal is to be transferred to another facility or to meet with the minister.
“The minister won’t meet only those who sews mouth or eye, or nail themselves. We cannot encourage such actions.”
Subari called on people not to believe incorrect information.
He said there was an attempt at starting a riot Tuesday at Prison No 16 and this continues.
“The situation is simple. Here are so called [mafia] authorities, which in reality had much influence. We won’t let this authority continue. Prisons are managed by the administration, not by anyone else.”
He explained that he knows the details of what happened at Rustavi prison, but it will be public in the near future.
The minister said prohibited alcoholic drink was prepared there, which was followed by an attempt at creating disorder.
“Naturally, certain products are needed to prepare this drink and it seems it was possible to bring those products into prisons before.”