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Controversy over monitoring inmates in prisons

By Ana Robakidze
Wednesday, December 12
The room where secret video/audio monitoring system was controlled from still exists in Gldani prison N 8, the representative of NGO My Georgia, Eliso Kiladze said at a press conference on December 11.

The installation of a hidden monitoring system started in 2006 from Rustavi prison and continued in Gldani prison several years later. The work was done by one of the public companies, the name of which has not yet been disclosed. The process Kiladze says was monitored by Avto Shantidze, a current employee of the Defense Ministry.

Kiladze also says she has received several video/audio files from Vladimer Bedukadze (the man who spread the scandalous video footage on torture in Georgian prisons prior to the parliamentary elections). The files reveal recorded phone calls made by inmates, prison staff and also by the medical staff at the prison hospital. Those files have been retrieved from the same server which the minister of prison system, Sozar Subari informed, had been lost and information on it was destroyed.

The same person who provided Bedukadze with video footage said both inmates and prison staff are still watched 24/7 in Gldani prison and the whole process is monitored by Giorgi Gevenetadze from the Prison Department.

The NGO representative requested the special monitoring group formed by the Ministry of the Penitentiary to start an investigation into the fact and find out the truth about this issue. Kiladze added that the necessary video/audio gadgets are very expensive.

Kiladze also provided the names of three individuals: Rati Mgeladze, Zviad Kapanadze and Zaur Bitsadze, who were frequent guests to Gldani prison and had access to the above-mentioned room; though none of these individuals were from the prison staff and they should not have been allowed on the premises. Kiladze finds this fact needs to be investigated urgently.

Another press conference was held at the Prime Time press club by Irma Inashvili, head of the media union Obiectivi. She was the one who spread scandalous “prison footage” in September. The original copies of the video footage have been sent to the chief prosecutor’s office, Inashvili informed. She said that according to her information, Bedukadze, who forwarded the Gldani prison video footage to Inashvili, will be questioned by the prosecutor’s office in near future, as he is a very important witness.

Inashvili also visited the chief prosecutor’s office and forwarded some new material (including video footage and documents from Gldani prison) to the office. The video files and documents were provided by Bedukadze some time ago and stored in the Brussels office belonging to the media union Obiectivi. Inashvili hopes that the new material can be helpful to the investigation.