TBILISI, DFWatch–A former official in the Saakashvili regime has been charged in a case involving Abu Ghraib-style sexually degrading treatment of detainees.
Megis Kardava, who has held several positions at law enforcement bodies in Georgia, has been out of the country since the National Movement was defeated in the 2012 parliamentary election, but Interpol is looking for the former deputy head of police department in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti.
Non-governmental organizations, the ombudsman and the opposition for many years told about mistreatment in the prisons during Saakashvili’s reign, but the government denied that it was happening and claimed it was all lies made up by the opposition.
Two weeks before the 2012 parliamentary election, video clips showing physical, sexual and verbal abuse of prisoners was published in the media and sparked a wave of protests which influenced the election. For the last year there has been an expectation that the guilty ones would be punished.
Thursday, Prosecutor Lasha Maghlakelidze said there are charges against Megis Kardava and employees at Prison No 8 in Gldani who are already in detention. The two others are Viktor Kacheishvili, former head of the security department at the prison, and Oleg Patsatsia, former head of the legal department.
The prosecutor said that in May 2011, Megis Kardava demanded that Malkhaz Arkania, who was serving a sentence at Gldani prison, admitted to participating in the preparation of a terrorist acts and give testimony against other people. He was threatened that he would be raped if he didn’t testify to this.
Arkania categorically refused to give such testimony, after which Kardava instructed Kacheishvili and several unidentified persons to place him in a special locale in the prison called ‘quarantine’, where he was forced to watch how a man was raped. Then Karadava again threatened him that if he didn’t give the required testimony, he would share the same fate as the man he just had watched being raped.
Arkania again refused to give the testimony they wanted. According to investigators, Khacheishvili, Kardava, Patsatsia and other unidentified people then tortured Arkania. The prosecutor said the process of beating and torture lasted several hours.
He was then brought to another cell in the prison, where prisoners in masks staged a sexual abuse scene, which was shot on camera and Megis Kardava was given a photo of this scene.
Kardava threatened Arkania that he would publish this photo. The prisoner agreed to sign the testimony which Kardava required from him.
Investigators also claim that from May 2011 to February 2012, Arkania was questioned a number of times and tortured.
“During one of these, Megis Kardava pointed a gun at the head of Malkhaz Arkania in order to get desired testimony and pretended he pulled the trigger,” the prosecutor said. “Arkania was forced to refuse having a lawyer. Arkania attempted to commit suicide after being tortured many times.”