Penitentiary system officials said they had decided to empty women’s prison in Tbilisi and transfer inmates to a jail in Rustavi at dawn of April 19, after twelve hours of rioting.
Living conditions in the prison deteriorated significantly due to heavy damage inflicted to the prison infrastructure as a result of the riot, Salome Makharadze, a spokesperson for the probation and penitentiary ministry, said on April 19.
No one has been injured either during the riot, or in the process of transfer of inmates, she said.
Riot in women’s prison, housing about 700 inmates, in Tbilisi started on Saturday evening as prisoners were demanding amnesty for all of them. President Saakashvili issued an amnesty for about 400 inmates for Ester; the amnesty applied to couple of dozen of women inmates.
Dimitri Shashkin, the minister for probation and penitentiary system, told journalists outside the prison late on April 18, that the inmates’ demand was “unrealistic” as it would have been impossible to pardon all of them, because there also were dozens of inmates convicted for grave crimes.
Echoing Shashkin’s remarks, Sozar Subari, the Georgian public defender, who was also there monitoring the situation, said the demand to pardon all 700 inmates was “unrealistic and impossible to fulfill.” But he also said that cases of some inmates, convicted for petty crimes and also of those whose verdicts were questionable could have been reviewed for pardoning in the future.
Representatives from the Pubic Defender’s Office, monitoring the transfer of prisoners, have not reported as of now any cases of use of excessive force against inmates.