Two ex-ministers in charge of the penitentiary system, Dimitri Shashkin and Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, have been summoned for questioning in connection to investigation over alleged cases of negligence by former senior prison officials, chief prosecutor’s office said on August 16.
It said in a statement, that investigation into multiple cases of inmates’ abuse and torture revealed that the ministry in charge of the penitentiary system was “regularly” failing to provide proper oversight on prisons staff.
Kalmakhelidze was questioned late on August 16 and Shashkin is expected to be questioned after he returns back to Georgia later this month.
“It is good that investigation is ongoing and I hope that it will be a thorough investigation, because if anyone is interested in this investigation first and foremost that’s me,” Kalmakhelidze said.
She said she was not aware of cases of prisoners’ abuse and also added that she would cooperate with the investigation and provide with all the information available to her.
“It has been established that for years abuse, torture and inhuman treatment of inmates was taking place systematically in almost all the penitentiary facilities… For years these cases were left without proper reaction despite of the fact that information about these cases were regularly included in reports of Georgian Public Defender, as well as in reports of local and international human rights groups,” chief prosecutor’s office said in the statement.
“On July 25, 2013, the Georgian chief prosecutor’s office launched investigation into case of alleged negligence committed by certain high-level officials of the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance,” it said.
Prosecutor’s office said that Kalmakhelidze and Shashkin were summoned in connection to this investigation “as witnesses.”
Shashkin was the minister in charge of penitentiary system from February to December, 2009 and Kalmakhelidze led the ministry from December 2009 till September, 2012 when she had to resign after prison abuse videos emerged.
Shashkin told Rustavi 2 TV on Friday that he’s not now in Georgia and would be back in the country on August 28. He also said that he would answer to all the questions in connection to his tenure as minister of the prison system.
Prosecutor’s office said that Bacho Akhalai, who led the penitentiary system from December, 2005 till December, 2008, would also be questioned. Akhalaia is now in pretrial detention pending court verdict into unrelated criminal charges.