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Who is Responsible for the Death of a Prisoner?

06.06.2005
Who is Responsible for the Death of a Prisoner?


According to attorney Keso Tsartsidze, the recent death of his client Piruz Jachvliani, a gravely ill prisoner, is the result of professional negligence on the part of penitentiary hospital staff. The attorney says that had Jachvliani been provided with appropriate medical assistance, he would have survived. Instead, despite his attorneys’ repeated petitions and medical expertise results, Piruz Jachvliani’s imprisonment was not substituted with home custody, and the gravely ill prisoner was not taken to hospital until after additional medical expertise was given by expert Maia Nikoleishvili, who agreed that Jachvliani’s imprisonment should be replaced with home custody. However by the time the prisoner was placed in hospital it was too late and the physicians were not able to save Piruz Jachvliani’s life.

In Georgian Penitentiary Institutions today, many of the prisoners serving their time are gravely ill, and require serious medical treatment and in most cases inpatient care. However, for inexplicable reasons these people are not treated in medical institutions and instead are left in prisons where their health conditions as well as the health conditions of surrounding prisoners deteriorate even further.  One such gravely ill prisoner was Piruz Jachvliani, who died on 13 May.

Jachvliani, who was serving his time in prison for theft, was gravely ill before he was arrested. He had acute viral hepatitis and was placed in the Prison’s Republic Hospital. However, because of a lack of appropriate medications and medical treatment, Jachvliani’s health deteriorated considerably while in prison.

Despite medical expertise from the National Bureau of Legal Expertise on 25 February stating that the patient’s condition was very grave indeed and required inpatient treatment in a special medical institution as well as long-term ambulatory supervision, Jachvliani was not transferred to the hospital. The Court did not satisfy the petition of Jachvliani’s attorneys to substitute imprisonment with home custody.

As Piruz Jachvliani’s health worsened, his attorneys addressed the Medical Department of the Ministry of Justice and requested a medical certificate on Jachvliani’s state of health. Having obtained the certificate, the attorneys got in touch with expert Maia Nikoleishvili, who agreed in his conclusions that Jachvliani’s imprisonment should be replaced with home custody.

On the same day that this medical conclusion was made, Piruz Jachvliani’s lawyers applied to the Court with a petition, and three days later, on 29 April, he was transferred to the infectious diseases section of the hospital, but, alas, saving his life was no longer possible and he died on 13 May.

Nikolaishvili stated in his conclusions of 21 April that Jachvliani was “seriously ill with acute viral hepatitis B” and that his recovery would be “impossible.”  He wrote: “at present the patient Piruz Jachvliani’s health condition is extremely serious, and requires instant and adequate medical treatment without which the death will be imminent.”

According to Keso Tsartsidze, one of Jachvliani’s lawyers, the penitentiary medical hospital should be held responsible for the patient’s death because had appropriate inpatient treatment been provided in a timely manner, the patient would have survived. “Piruz Jachvliani’s death is a result of professional negligence of the penitentiary medical staff,” says the lawyer.

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