Monday, March 28, 2011

Tortured to Death in Georgian Prisons, Routine Event

Excellent Artcile - too bad the world turns a blind eye to such human rights violations

Tortured to Death in Georgian Prisons, Routine Event,

“Two more prisoners died this last week from torture”

By Sopho Gelashvili

Two prisoners died last week from torture in Tbilisi Georgia. Death of prisoners has become a routine event in the country’s penitentiary system. Georgian prisons have never experienced such a high incarceration rate; however, this problem is minor in comparison with the fact that the prisoners are being killed in the same facilities that have been brought in-line with so-called European standards.

Many NGOs and human rights defenders speak loudly about the alarming statistics of prison death but no reaction or resolution follows.

It is already obvious that many prisoners provide benefits for the Georgians Government; they are a source of revenue from prison industries and incarceration serves as a money-making racket for the government. Moreover, families of prisoners are ready to collect thousands of the votes to support the Government during elections in securing their relative’s release or more humane treatment. This is the reason that the law-enforcement agencies are keen to lock so many people up. They are so busy that there is often no space left in isolator cells of preliminary detention centers to accommodate new arrivals. The situation that exists in Georgian prisons is obvious but it is hard to understand why inmates are being killed at the hands of prison staff.  

Just last week, two young men who were tortured to death were buried. The death of one of them, 31-years-old Temur Petriashvili, was announced by Nugzar Nachkebia a former high ranking official, who himself had been persecuted because he didn’t agree with fabricated accusations against Bidzina Giorgobiani, the Head of the Forests Department at the time. Nachkebia preferred to go public about the prisoner’s death, even after family members of the deceased chose to remain silent.

Nugzar Nachkebia:

- My neighbor, Temur Nodari Petriashvili, born in 1980, who was serving his sentence in the 6th zone of Rustavi, was tortured to death on March 10. I have this information from his wife and mother. He was ill and was taking medicine. He had a conflict with a member of the prison administration and as a result he was taken out of the prison cell and beaten up cruelly and was taken somewhere. Later Temur Petriashvili was transferred to the Gldani Hospital. When contact was lost with the prisoner, his wife and sister began searching for him but couldn’t find him. One of the prisoners informed them about what happened and his current situation. Petriashvili’s mother, who went to Italy to earn a living, returned to Georgia and began searching for her son and found him clinging on to life (nearly dead). He lay in the Gldani Hospital for approximately 10 days and his family wasn’t even informed of his condition.

The parents of the dead are against divulging into these facts but they cannot hide this dreadful reality. They dare not even mention the name of the attorney in order to access related documents. SOD, KUD – they all run after us to keep from leaking the information or to keep anyone from taking a photo of the dead body.  Now a completely healthy 31-year old man lies in a coffin, leaving behind his wife and 12-year old daughter.

As mentioned above, this was not an isolated case. One of the leaders of “Common People Resistance Movement”, Irma Inashvili has spoken out publicly about another victim who also died from torture: 31-year old prisoner, Malkhaz Muzashvili.

Irma Inashvili:

- We have a video camera recording of Malkhaz Muzashvili’s dead body. He had very serious injuries all over his body: a broken a leg; the nose damaged, as well as his wrist and veins of his neck, all clear signs that he had been tortured. It is known from a person close to him that Muzashvili was transferred from the Ksani Colony to the 8th prison of Gldani where he was cruelly beaten up. He died after being admitted to the Khudadovi Hospital. The family members confirmed that Muzashvili had requested to meet with his family but the doctors at the hospital refused. The nurse which notified his mother about the condition of her son was immediately fired. We have information that 12 more prisoners were also cruelly beaten up, together with Muzashvili. Based on information provided from Muzashvili’s sister, three of these prisoners were treated at the Khudadov Hospital. We also have information that two more prisoners were tortured to death but unfortunately we still have not been able to identify them.

- What are these beatings connected to? Was Muzashvili imprisonment politically motivated?

- No, he had no contact with politics. This is a rhetorical question as to why prisoners are tortured? We asked the question, especially prisoners who are protected by all international conventions, what are the reasons for their torture? In real life the reason for being beaten and tortured may be because that the prisoner simply does not kiss the photo of Mikheil Saakashvili, or does not salute the jailer, etc.

- Are these the prison requirements?

- Yes, I have information from the prisoners that there are such requirements; very humiliating and abusive. They are beaten up cruelly when they do not obey; the most disobedient first go to the Khudadovi Hospital and the next stop is the cemetery.

- Is it known who has beaten him up?

- His family members told us that prison guards beat Muzashvili up.

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