Dozens of inmates of prison No.14 in Geguti close to Kutaisi in western Georgia resorted to self-injury after several days of hunger strike in protest over reported beating of several prisoners by the guard.
The ministry in charge of the penitentiary said 17 inmates were hospitalized late on February 9; all of them were taken back to prison No.14 after treatment from self-inflicted injuries mainly to their lower and upper limbs. It said that 14 other inmates were treated in the prison without requiring hospitalization. None of the injuries were life-threatening, according to prison officials.
A representative of the Public Defender’s Office, Giorgi Labadze, who visited Geguti prison on February 10, said that about 46 inmates had self-inflicted injuries.
He said inmates told him that they inflicted harm on themselves after hearing from prison guards that deployment of special purpose forces was planned inside the prison to quell their protest. Relatives of inmates were keeping vigil outside the prison last night as unsubstantiated rumors of possible deployment of riot police units swirled.
Hundreds of inmates of the Geguti prison went on hunger strike last week demanding investigation of reported mistreatment of at least two prisoners.
According to Public Defender, Ucha Nanuashvili, who visited Geguti prison on February 7, at least one inmate had bodily injuries. At the time he called on the authorities to immediately investigate reported cases of mistreatment of inmates in the prison No.14. Inmates were also demanding officials of the prison No.14 to be suspended from office, pending investigation.
The prison system ministry said on February 6 that it had information about inmates planning a “provocation” several weeks before the protest started and even informed about it the public defender.
“This provocation is related to the fact that after the new government came into power, situation has changed in this penitentiary facility and inmates were restricted in those freedoms, which were beyond the limits of prison regime. For that reason inmates are trying to create instability by misleading public [about inmates’ conditions] in order to weaken prison administration’s control, which is and will be carried out by the ministry in full compliance with law,” the prison system ministry said on February 6.
Public Defender, Ucha Nanuashvili, said on February 10 that lot’s of rumors and false information is being disseminated over situation in the prison No.14, including by inmates themselves. He, however, again called on the authorities to immediately investigate several alleged cases of inmates’ mistreatment. Nanuashvili also called on the prison administration to opt for more “lenient” approach, including through granting inmates with longer daily walks than they have now.
Hundreds of inmates of the same prison were on hunger in strike in December, 2013 protesting against the authorities’ decision to put on hold setting up of a commission that will look into alleged cases of miscarriages of justice.