Outgoing President Saakashvili pardoned on Sunday ex-chief of penitentiary system Bacho Akhalaia convicted of inhuman treatment of inmates which led to prison riot in March 2006 that claimed the lives of seven prisoners.
Despite of presidential pardon, Akhalaia, who was sentenced to three years and nine months in jail on October 28 on charges of inhuman treatment of inmates, will remain detained as he still faces power abuse charges in unrelated case in which he is in pre-trial detention pending trial.
President Saakashvili said in his written statement on Sunday that guilty verdict against Akhalaia into prison riot case "is not only unjustified from the legal point of view, but, it can be said without any exaggeration, it is shameful."
He said that in 2006 his government was in struggle against criminal bosses, or 'thieves-in-law', to eradicate their rule over penitentiary and Akhalaia, then head of the prison system, was in forefront of this struggle.
"It is nothing but shameful when thieves[-in-law] and prosecutors are together trying the fighter against thieves[-in-law]," Saakashvili said; he also said that case against Akhalaia was "based on testimonies of several thieves-in-law and others."
Akhalaia, who was arrested on November 7, 2012, was facing multiple criminal charges into three separate cases. In two of them he was found not guilty, but he was convicted in prison riot case.
"I am far from thinking that Bacho has not made serious mistake. It cannot be ruled out either that he could have even violated law without our knowledge, but after so many probes all the charges brought by prosecutors before the court turned out to be groundless and [prison] 'riot' case is simply shameful, dangerous and anti-state," Saakashvili said in his written statement.