TBILISI, DFWatch–Six policemen who are in prison awaiting trial are not in any danger, according to the Prison Ministry in Georgia.
The six are being held at Gldani prison in northern Tbilisi, a large facility which became infamous last year in connection with the documentation of widespread abuse of prisoners by staff.
Giga Oniani from Freedom and Support Center says that it is not acceptable to place the six policemen in Gldani prison together with criminals. He says one of the six, Zaza Chaia, former deputy chair of Tbilisi’s chief department, is known by almost all criminals and locating him in Gldani’s prison is equal to inhumane treatment.
“There are criminals, robbers, killers and bandits at Gldani prison. The majority of them were detained by Zaza Chaia. It is not correct to place someone who was fighting against criminal in a prison where there are criminals,” he said, adding that he demands to have him moved to the so-called Matrosov prison, which is used for holding former government officials under slightly better conditions.
The Freedom and Support Center, an organization which is close to Saakashvili’s United National Movement, has sent a complaint to the Prison Ministry.
In response, head of the Prison Ministry’s press office, Irakli Kordzaia, told DFWatch that at the moment all six are in an isolated cell and have no contact with criminals, so they are under no physical threat.
The six are detained in a case that concerns Interior Minister Irakli Gharibashvili’s father-in-law, Tamaz Tamazashvili.
Tamazashvili was detained in October 2011, shortly after Bidzina Ivanishvili declared that he was going into politics. The opposition claimed that his arrest was politically motivated. Tamazashvili was among the first to be released by the new government.
May 24, the Prosecutor’s Office detained the former policemen who participated in the detention of, and search operation against Tamazashvili.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the following policemen are charged with falsification of evidence, illegal detention and abuse of powers: Gocha Baghatrishvili, Gocha Chitaia, Zaza Chaia, Grigol Kvinidkadze, Vladimer Gamreklishvili and Givi Kravchenko. All were placed in pre-trial detention at Gldani prison in the north of Tbilisi.
Ministry spokesman Kordzaia tells us that due to inappropriate conditions it is not yet possible to move the six policemen to Matrosov’s prison.
“When the situation gets sorted out there they will be placed in Matrosov’s Prison. It won’t take much time,” he said.