TBILISI, DFWatch–A court in Tbilisi determined sixteen persons as guilty of torture of prisoners, humiliation and mistreatment, but recognized Vladmier Bedukadze, the person who released the video footage documenting it, as innocent.
He was freed from criminal responsibility on the grounds of mediation by the prosecutor.
By the decision of the court he is also released from the status of conviction and he will be returned back the USD 1 200 bail on which he was released until trial.
The trial was closed in order to protect the privacy of those concerned.
In late September 2012, footage of prisoner torture was shown in the media, and even though human rights activists and the ombudsman had been reporting about such facts for years, only after releasing the footage was there any reaction. It was followed by a scandal and the first consequence was the resignation of the interior and prison minister.
Thousands of people demonstrated for weeks to support the prisoners and it also had an influence on the results of the parliamentary election on October 1, when President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party was defeated.
Vladimer Bedukadze, the one who provided media with part of the footage, was detained January 18 and placed in preliminary detention, but the next day released on USD 1 200 bail.
Bedukadze, who for years worked in Gldani no 8, the most scandalous prison, was in France when the footage was released. After the election he returned to Georgia and was detained together with 15 persons, who were also employees of the same prison. Friday all of them were convicted except him.
Judge Eka Areshidze later explained the details of Bedukadze’s case saying that a plea was done between Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili and Vladimer Bedukadze about special cooperation, which means that Kbilashvili appealed to court with mediation, ‘for Bedukadze exceptionally cooperated with court, he requested to release him’ and court satisfied this request.
This decision means that Bedukadze is not only released from being jailed, but he also won’t have a status of conviction. Prosecutor’s office yet hasn’t done any explanation regarding this decision.