The video footage which was brought to light two days ago and shows torture and rape at Gldani Prison, turns out to be just a small part of a larger collection of video material revealing torture in the Georgian penitentiary system.
Irma Inashvili reveals the story of obtaining scandalous video material
By Ana Robakidze
Friday, September 21
Irma Inashvili, a well known Georgian journalist and a head of media union Obiectivi announced that she was the journalist who leaked the now infamous video. According to Inashvili the total length of the film material she has in her possession lasts an hour and a half.
"It all started back in May. I was contacted by some individuals and they provided the video material." Inashvili says. She received the video and got in touch with her colleagues from Obiectivi's Brussels office, as well as fellow journalists George Popkhadze and Merab Labadze, who sent the material to officials at various European government offices. Besides making sure that Europe is fully informed about the current situation in Georgia, she also passed along the video footage to Georgian government officials to prevent against possible threats from the Georgian government.
Inashvili's statement about Merabishvili's interest in spreading the video material was vehemently denied by Shota Utiashvili, head of the International and Public Relations Department at the Prime Minister's office. "Inashvili has made a statement which is irresponsible and not serious" he stated.
"I was informed that the individual [who shot the film] has left the borders of Georgia. It is a very interesting fact, how could someone who filmed this video material manage to leave the country, hence I believe he was supported by some law enforcement officers." Inashvili added.
The journalist also addressed the government and explained that neither Maestro TV or TV9, or any of the political parties had anything to do with obtaining the material and she was the only one who has direct access to the source.
In an interview with Obiectivi Lado Bedukadze, the person who allegedly took the footage at Gldani Prison, revealed other very disturbing details about the Georgian prison system. According to Bedukadze torture and rape is quite common in Georgian prisons and a lot more video material is available. "I was filming for about a year and a half" he says. The video material which Bedukadze kept was the rejected material; other more important videos were taken and stored in a safe kept by current Minister of Internal Affairs Bacho Akhalaia.
Bedukadze commented that only the torture of "interesting individuals" was filmed. "Interesting individuals" are those prisoners who are considered to be "ideological enemies" of the president; therefore they had to be punished strictly." Bedukadze stated. He went on to accuse Bacho Akhalaia of introducing "cruel methods" in the Georgian penitentiary system. "All of this started back in 2005, when Akhalaia began working in the prison system" he stated. According to Bedukadze these methods include torture, degrading and inhuman treatment, rape and even murder of inmates in prisons.
Lado Bedukadze has already fled to Brussels, but his family is still in Georgia. As Bidzina Inashvili announced in an over the phone interview with Obiectivi, Bedukadze's wife has been under psychological pressure from the authorities as they want her to link her husband with the Georgian Dream coalition.
The Public Prosecutors Office of Georgia made an official statement and denied all accusations. The statement reads: "We would like to announce that no law enforcement institutions have ever made any pressure on Vladimer Bedukadze's family members". However Inashvili still asks lawyer, human right's defenders and NGO's to take effective steps to ensure the protection and safety of Bedukadze's family in Georgia.