Speaking at a session of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights on May 19 Georgian Public Defender Sozar Subari accused law enforcement agencies for excessive use of force against suspects. He also criticized chief of penitentiary system Bacho Akhalaia for provoking prison riot on March 27 which led to death of seven inmates.
Sozar Subari said that police officers who planned the May 2 operation against three criminal suspects - two of them were killed by the police in a shootout in downtown Tbilisi – should be held responsible.
“The fact itself, that a special operation was planned in the center of the city, is already a violation, because the law directly says that such operations cannot be planned in densely populated area,” Sozar Subari said.
The Public Defender also questioned impartiality of investigation carried out by the prosecutor’s office into the Sandro Girgvliani murder case. Interior Ministry’s four officers were arrested with the suspicion of committing this crime, but relatives of the victim say that higher level officials were behind the murder.
“It seems that the investigation focuses only on those four persons, who are in custody, but I personally have serious doubts that only these four persons were involved,” he said.
Sozar Subari spoke about the prison system and blamed ex-Justice Minister Kote Kemularia, who is now Secretary of National Security Council and Shota Kopadze, ex-chief of prison system, for a grave situation in the penitentiary system.
“Kemularia should be held responsible for those serious problems which exist regarding illegal distribution of funds and persisting corruption in the prison system,” the Georgian Ombudsman said.
But he also criticized the current chief of penitentiary system Bacho Akhalaia, who was Subari’s deputy before becoming prison chief in December, 2005.
“I am deeply convinced that if Bacho Akhalaia had not entered the prison that night, the riot might not have happened,” Sozar Subari told parliamentarians, referring to the March 27 Tbilisi prison riot.
Some human right groups and opposition parties argued that riot was triggered by Bacho Akhalaia who allegedly was abusing inmates overnight on May 27.