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Controversial Information Spread about Ksani Prison

March 10, 2010

Ana Sheshaberidze

After fire in the prison, Public Defender’s Office and penitentiary department spread controversial information about the situation in Ksani prison.

Prevention and monitoring department of the Public Defender carried out daily monitoring of the Ksani strict regime colony N 7 after the fire; after that they spread statement that during the fire 2 954 inmates were in the custody; 173 of them were in jail. However, the limited number of inmates in the custody was 1 600. They also stated that there are 1 287 beds and 204 new beds in the various buildings of the prison which survived the fire; over 2 700 inmates share the abovementioned beds.

The representatives of the public defender’s office state that the administration of the custody does its best to relieve the difficult situation of the inmates. They also reported that before March 6, 2010 the Ksani colony faced serious problem of overcrowding. Public Defender wrote about this problem in his report of the first half of 2009. However, the report had no follow-up. Despite several recommendations of the public defender, problems still remain unresolved in Ksani prison.

According to the Public Defender, there are 1 200 inmates in Ksani prison remained without shelter. Representatives of the penitentiary department state 1 200 prisoners could not stay in the street because there are only 500 prisoners there. Those convicted who were in the building during the fire, were moved to tents on the same evening where they have beds and heating.

“There were about 500 prisoners in the part of the prison which was burnt; none of them remained without shelter. The tents were brought for them immediately. The information about prisoners who stayed in the street is not true,” said the representatives of the press-center of the Ministry of Penitentiary, Probation and Legal Aid.

In 4-5 weeks the inmates of Ksani prison will be placed into a new custody built in accordance to the European standards. The new building is being constructed in the territory of the colony. The construction was hurried up and it will finish in one year instead initially scheduled 2 years. The ministry of penitentiary state that the new institution will have play-grounds, various rest places. They also intend to build small enterprise where prisoners will work and church in the yard.

AS for the burnt part of the Ksani colony, it will be restored in several days.

The fire broke out in Ksani colony on March 6, at about 6:30 pm. During the fire one inmate died – 44-year-old Besarion Avsajanishvili. Reportedly, he was disabled person and could not leave the cell on time; he died because of smoke.

The investigation is trying to estimate the real reasons of fire. However, the ministry officials state the initial prognosis is supposed to be grounded – the fire resulted from short cut of electricity supply.