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Public Defender Woke Up

December 16, 2010
Nino Mikiashvili,

Beating a detainee by a full bottle of “Nabeghlavi” mineral water to get confession about stealing mobile phones; to beat a juvenile detainee to get his confession about stealing a bicycle; beating prisoners in “punishment cells” and shower-rooms for knocking on the cell-door and loud speaking; killing a prisoner by beating and investigation started for “killing a person by carelessness” – these are facts which are discussed in the Special Report of the Public Defender on the National Preventive Mechanism. The public relation department of the Public Defender’s Office sent the report to the

Public Defender Giorgi Tughushi said the concrete facts of physical assault and inhuman treatment of prisoners and detainees in pretrial detention settings are not properly investigated that promote the impunity syndrome among law enforcement officers.

Special Report on National Preventive Mechanism was prepared as a result of the monitoring in the penitentiary institutions and pretrial detention settings in the first half of 2010 by the special preventive group of the Public Defender’s Preventive and Monitoring Department. “The monitoring uncovered facts of inhuman treatment of the convicted people. More precisely, the prison personnel and police officers still ill-treat detainees and convicted people; very often, police officers abuse their power when detaining the people. Incompetent and ineffective investigation of these facts become the main obstacle for the prevention and eradication of ill-treatment.” 

Presa-ge highlights only several concrete facts from the 67-page Special Report.

On September 21, 2010 the Report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), which largely discusses the case of Ushangi G. – prisoner who died in September of 2009, was published. This case is discussed in the Special Report of the National Preventive Mechanism as well.

Ushangi G. was placed in prison # 7 on September 19, 2009 in an unconscious condition, so he was taken initially to jail hospital and then to Ghudushauri National Medical Center where he died on September 21.

According to the forensic medical expertise, the reason of Ushangi G’s death was “mass haemorrhage caused by a blunt trauma in the brain. The corpse of Ushangi G. has the following injuries received when he was still alive: “mass subdural, subarachnoid and intraventricular haemorrhage. Excoriations: on the right shoulder, right wrist, on both knees, on the left shin and on both ankles. Bruises: on the right wrist; on the right arm, on the abdomen, on the left thigh, on the left arm, on the left shin and on the fourth finger on the right hand. These injuries were caused by hard, blunt subject and are dangerous to life; the injuries are 3-4 days old.”

The investigation started on September 21, 2009 under the article of “killing by carelessness” that “clearly contradicts the injuries discovered on the corpse. They prove that injuries were caused by premeditated action rather than carelessness. The person was injured several days before the death – that means after detention on September 15.”

CPT has underscored in its report that police officers, who detained Ushangi G, the person who was with Ushangi G during detention, the officers of the Adjara regional pretrial detention setting where he was placed after detention and the bailiff who transported Ushangi G from Batumi to Tbilisi Prison # 7 were not interrogated even within 5 months after the investigation started.

On June 23, 2010 the Public Defender was informed by the prosecutor’s office they had started investigation on Ushangi G’s case based on the notification of Ghudushauri Medical Center. Giorgi Tughushi thinks it once more demonstrates incorrect attitude towards the facts of inhuman treatment – “although the injuries were discovered on the body of Ushangi G when he was placed in Prison # 7 and then in jail hospital, administration of the penitentiary institution did not consider it was necessary to inform the investigative institutions about it. The investigation of Ushangi G’s case has not been finished yet and nobody has been punished for the crime.”

The Special Report of Giorgi Tughushi discusses the physical assault of under-age Malkhaz M. The representatives of the Prevention and Monitoring Department met him in the general prison # 5 for female and juvenile prisoners on April 16, 2010. The juvenile had general haemorrhage, excoriations and bruises on the body. He said he was detained on April 6, 2010 because of robbery in the Telavi based shop and the police officers beat him in the police station; they demanded him to plead guilty in stealing a bicycle too.

Malkhaz M alleged that the head of the police department threatened him with death if he had informed anybody about his physical assault. The public defender sent the case of Malkhaz M to the chief prosecutor of Georgia for further investigation. Currently, the investigation is underway.

From January 1 to June 30 of 2010, 403 convicted were placed in the penitentiary institutions with various injuries on their bodies. 42 of them said that they were injured during detention. According to the replies to the Public Defender’s Office from the Chief Prosecutor’s Office preliminary investigations had started on those facts. However, the Public Defender’s Office did not receive any answers to the questions – under which articles the investigations were launched; what investigative activities were carried out and what level the investigation procedure was at that moment.

On February 22, 2010 the members of the Monitoring Group questioned detainee Kakhaber K in Zugdidi pretrial detention setting. Kakhaber K said that on February 21, 2010, at about 10:00 pm, he was at home with his disabled mother when about ten men in police uniforms broke into his bedroom, pulled him out of the bed and physically assaulted and insulted him.

Kakhaber K said he was being beaten in the hands and legs. Then, they physically assaulted his mother too. Kakhaber K was taken to the police station where the officers continued to physically assault and insult him. Later, he was told that he was blamed in stealing the accumulator of the car. The detainee said he did not know the names of the police officers who beat him but could recognize them.

The medical expert of special preventive group inspected the detainee externally. He was observed to have physical injuries: general haemorrhage, different kinds of excoriations and bruises.

The protocol of external inspection of the detainee indicated that he was observed to have darkening of the right eye. The material obtained by the preventive group on this fact was sent to main prosecutor of Georgian on March 4th of 2010. The investigation is underway.

On February 25th of 2010, in the #4 prison of Zugdidi, the representative of public defender met with Sergo R and received an explanation according to which on February 16th near his house, the employees of Senaki Regional Agency beat and verbally insulted him. According to his explanation, he was beat by fully filled Nabeghlavi mineral water bottle and was demanded to confess the fact of cell-phone theft. According to Sergo R’s explanation, these acts occurred as while the detainment, also before transferring to the police department and afterwards in the building of the police agency.

The prisoner explained that he was beat approximately by 5 policemen in the building of Senaki police department; they swore on him and beat him separately in the face, head and body. The prisoner was afflicted with injuries and periodically with headache. According to the data of Senaki police record book and registration book of Senaki temporary isolation cell, the prisoner was afflicted with the face and body injuries before the detainment. The prisoner noted that he was scared and that is why he could not protest the violence carried out against him.

According to his explanation, in the temporary isolation cell he was visited by his lawyer who proposed request on assigning the judicial-medical expert examination. His request was not satisfied. According to the prisoner’s explanation, while the detainment in Senaki Regional Agency he was threatened by the policemen that his mother and wife would be arrested and the child would be put in the orphanage and he would be planted on with drugs. At the meeting with the representative of public defender Sergo R. was under hunger strike – he was requesting just investigation of the case and the punishment of the policemen. The public defender requested the information from the Office of Prosecutor whether or not the investigation has started on the case, but still has not received the answer.

On June 1st of 2010, new corpus was opened in the penitentiary department of Common and Strict Penitentiary Department. The report indicates that according to the convicts, their transfer was conducted forcefully; however, they restrained to make this fact pubic and requested confidentiality. As for the convicts who were observed to have injuries, they explained it due to falling from their bed, playing soccer and etc…

The prisoners arrested in #8 Gldani prison and the Medical Department for Convicts and Prisoners do not confirm the inappropriate treatment, however the prisoners detained in other departments confirm this fact. The special report read that the prisoners in Gldani prison were beat in the punishment cells and the shower rooms for knocking on the door, for loud talking and contacting with the prisoner from another cell.

On June 23rd of 2010, the employee of Prevention and Monitoring Department of the Office of Public Defender obtained explanation from the convict Merab Ts. detained in the Medical Department for Convicts and Prisoners. According to his statement, on June 20th, the representatives of the administration physically assaulted him – approximately at 10:30 4-5 employees of the Medical Department for Convicts and Prisoners went in the second chamber of surgical section and stated that the search was being conducted in the corresponding chamber.

In the second chamber of the surgical department the patients Merab Ts. and Avto N. were present. The latter left the room, as for Merab Ts. he stayed in the room. According to his explanation, in several minutes after the above mentioned individuals came in, the deputy director of the Medical Department came in who was talking provocatively; then he hit the wheelchair where Merab Ts. was sitting and took him by the neck. According to Merab Ts. he was physically insulted by other employees of the department Avto Popiashvili and Giorgi Bitsadze.

While the beating, the wheelchair overturned and the convict lost conscience. According to his statement, when he came back to his conscience, Avto Popiashvili verbally assaulted him. According to the convict’s statement, Avto Popiashvili and Giorgi Bitsadze again physically assaulted him.

The report notes that the following injuries were inflicted on Merab Ts.’s body on June 23rd: excoriation on the left upper side, three excoriations above the right eyebrow, hematomas in the right and left eye area, the wound below the right and left eye, excoriation and swelling of the nose, hematomas on the both sides of the throat, hematomas on the front and back sides of the right and left arms. On June 24th, the explanation of the convict was sent to the Investigation Department of the Ministry of Probation and Legal Issues.

On July 26th, in the response received by the Office of Public Defender from the Office of Prosecutor it is indicated that on July 14th of 2010, the investigation started on the facts of exceeding the official authority by the employees of the Medical Department for Convicts and Prisoners. The investigation is still underway.