1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Jail abuse scandal in Georgia

September 20, 2012

An outcry over a jail abuse scandal has forced Georgia's interior minister to resign just ten days before parliamentary elections in the Caucasus nation. Bacho Akhalaia said he accepted "political" responsibility.

Protesting against torture in Tbilisi. Photo: EMEA Picture Service,Germany Picture Service Protesters hold signs during a rally to demonstrate against the government in Tbilisi September 19, 2012. Hundreds of protesters blocked a street in the centre of the Georgian capital and demonstrated against the government after Maestro TV station released video footage depicting inhumane treatment of prisoners on Tuesday, according to local media. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili (GEORGIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW) TEMPLATE OUT /einst. sc
Image: DW

The resignation of Georgia's interior minister on Thursday follows days of demonstrations after two opposition-linked television channels showed footage of male inmates being tortured and raped with objects.

Outgoing interior minister Akhalaia in a ministry website statement said: "I feel moral and political responsibility that we could not eradicate such horrible practices." Akhalaia had previously been prisons minister. His successor as prison minister has also resigned.

The European rights body, the Council of Europe, described the abuses depicted in the video content as "atrocities."

Outgoing Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia at a meeting in the parliament in Tbilisi, on July 3, 2012. Photo: VANO SHLAMOV/AFP/GettyImages)
The jail abuse scandal prompted Akhalaia's resignationImage: AFP/Getty Images

European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton joined the condemnation on Thursday, saying she was "appalled" by the violence shown.

Footage showed a weeping male prisoner inside Gldani prison in Tbilisi begging for mercy before being violated and another being kicked by prison guards.

Footage shown by rival's TV channel

One of the channels is owned by the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvilli, whose opposition Georgian Dream coalition is challenging the ruling United National Movement of President Mikhail Saakashvilli in the election on October 1.

Initially, Saakashvilli's administration had claimed that the video had been staged and recorded by guards who had been bribed by "politically motivated persons."

Arrests made

Early on Wednesday, Saakashvilli said he would "not tolerate such behavior" in Georgia's prisons. Prosecutors said 10 people, including guards, have been arrested.

On Thursday, the president named Georgy Tugushi, previously Georgia's human rights ombudsman, as new prisons minister and said he was deploying police to jails to replace prison officers.

Georgian Dream has drawn large crowds during campaigning but still trails Saakashvilli's ruling movement in opinion polls.

The US embassy in Georgia has called on Saakashvilli's government to initiate an independent investigation into the jail abuses.

ipj/ccp (Reuter, AFP)

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

A bombed out building in Mariupol
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage