Ten officials of the penitentiary system have been arrested in connection to inhuman treatment of inmates in prison number 8 located in Tbilisi, Georgian chief prosecutor, Murtaz Zodelava, said on September 19.
Among them are: Gaga Mkurnalidze, deputy head of the penitentiary department; Davit Khutchua, head of the prison number 8 and his deputy Victor Kacheishvili, as well as four other officials from the same prison.
Remaining three are those officials from the prison number 8, whose arrest was first reported by the Interior Ministry on Tuesday afternoon when it released video footage of two prison guards beating an inmate in a cell. The Interior Ministry has claimed that the arrested prison officials abused inmates and made video record of it in exchange of money in a deal arranged by Tamaz Tamazashvili, an inmate who is serving his jail term in the same prison facility and who is an associate of Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Judging from chief prosecutor’s statement the investigation still pursues this line of inquiry.
“It was established as a result of evidence obtained during the investigation that several groups were operating in the prison number 8, which were infringing inmates’ rights,” chief prosecutor, Murtaz Zodelava, said and reiterated the Interior Ministry’s version that “one group”, involving those three prison officials arrested on September 18, were abusing inmates and recording it.
He also said that the three officials and one former prison guard, who is now wanted by the Georgian law enforcement agencies, Vladimer Bedukadze, were recording inmates’ torture and giving videos to “third parties” in exchange of large amount of money.
Zodelava separated this group from those seven prison officials who were arrested on September 19 and whose alleged involvement in the prisoners’ abuse was revealed after Tbilisi-based Maestro and Channel 9 TV stations aired late on Tuesday more shocking videos of inmates’ abuse and rape.
All ten officials face charges of inhuman treatment and torture.
“Investigation is ongoing to identify other perpetrators,” Zodelava said.