New prison system minister, Giorgi Tugushi, has announced about the plans to establish within next ten days “an independent investigative team”, which would have “a broad mandate” to probe into “all the cases” of human rights violations taking place in the penitentiary “in recent years”.
“I spoke with the President yesterday and received his full consent to form an effective independent investigative team within ten days,” Tugushi said on September 25.
He said that the team would include a member from the parliamentary committee for human rights or committee of legal affairs (incumbent Parliament’s authority expires when a new Parliament, elected on October 1, is convened); minister of penitentiary system or his authorized representative; an attorney lawyer; a prosecutor; representatives from relevant non-governmental organizations. He said that international experts and consultants would also be invited “to help us in revealing perpetrators.”
The state-funded investigative team, Tugushi said, will enjoy “with quite a broad mandate” to carry out probe in various state agencies and to meet without any obstacles to anyone who might become subject of the team’s probe, to interview victims, witnesses and suspected perpetrators. Tugushi said that the team would have an authority to demand suspending an official from office and “it will of course be met.”
Findings of the investigative team should then go to the chief prosecutor’s office, which will have to initiative criminal investigation against suspected perpetrators, said Tugushi who was public defender before President Saakashvili appointed him as prisons system minister following Gldani prison abuse scandal.
“Not a single person should be left without punishment,” Tugushi said.
He said that after taking the post of minister he obtained evidence of cases of prisoners’ torture and inhuman treatment, other than what has already been revealed in the Gldani prison.
“It’s probably difficult to imagine what can be more grave than what we have already seen [in released video footage of prisoners’ torture], but I do not rule out that [even graver] cases had been taking place in the penitentiary,” Tugushi said.