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Taped Conversation Mounts Pressure on Prison System Chief
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 5 Mar.'07 / 15:45

Tbilisi-based Imedi TV aired a taped phone conversation on March 4 which, according to the television network, implicates prison system chief Bacho Akhalaia in planning a prison riot in Tbilisi last year.

Seven inmates of prison number 5 in Tbilisi were killed in a special operation following what is officially known as a prisoners’ riot on March 27, 2006. The authorities claim the “prison riot” was orchestrated by criminal bosses, both from within and outside the prison, who wanted to stage a massive jailbreak and create “massive destabilization” in the country.
 
The taped phone conversation, a portion of which was again broadcasted twice on March 5, is between two men identified by Imedi TV as prisoner Paata Mamardashvili and Gia Dgebuadze, who the network says is an official from the Interior Ministry’s Department for Constitutional Security (DCS).

Alleged Interior Ministry official Dgebuadze tells prisoner Mamardashvili not to reveal that he has been cooperating with prison system chief Bacho Akhalaia to help him fabricate evidence showing that the riot was planned by criminal authorities. In exchange Dgebuadze vows to organize his early release from the prison.

Mamardashvili, together with five other individuals, is charged with masterminding the prison riot.

The taped phone conversation, confirmed to be valid, may undermines authorities’ claims that the March 27 prison riot was organized by criminal authorities with an aim to trigger destabilization in the country.

Opposition politicians have already reacted by saying that the taped phone conversation is “clear evidence” against Bacho Akhalaia.

Lawmakers from the ruling National Movement party downplayed allegations as “absurd” and “not serious.”

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