New details have become public over the case of Levan Kortava who died as the result of trauma to his skull/brain at Geguti prison on May 23, 2013. According to the information of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG), on May 12 of this year, Kortava was taken from the Department of Corrections N6 of Rustavi to the Department of Geguti N14. At about 8 pm there was a dispute between Kortava and the inspector of security division, Ilia Shanshashvili.
Prisoner dies in jail from physical abuse
By Messenger staff
Wednesday, August 7
Shanshashvili asked the accused Shota Sinauridze to solve the problem. The conversation between Kortava and Sinauridze grew into a physical fight. Kortava hit Sinauridze in response to his offense. Even though he knew what was going on, Shanshashvili neglected his official duties and did not ensure the safety of the accused men by preventing the conflict.
According to the POG “as a result of this violence, Levan Kortava received serious injuries, particularly various signs and bruises on his forehead, eye sockets, right temple and nose, bruises in the soft skin tissue of the skull, in the soft areas and in the substance of brain, also the linear fracture of the nose,” which later caused his death.
In order to avoid responsibility over Kortava’s death, Shanshashvili put the investigation on the wrong trail. In particular, he told the investigation that Kortava received his injuries after falling down from the stairs of the second floor. Moreover, together with his coworkers, he made a falsification of evidences.
As a result, Shanshashvili was detained on August 2, along with three other employees of Geguti jail, while the condemned men of the jail will also face charges for causing Kortava’s death.
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), NGO 42nd Article of the Constitution, Transparency International Georgia, and several other non-government organizations addressed the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia (MCLA) to examine the general conditions and methods of management at Gugeti jail, and placed the issue of responsibility on the officials of the jail. The family of the late Kortava also demands the dismissal of Minister Sozar Subari.
In response to the NGOs, the MCLA said that the director and two deputies of Geguti have been dismissed after Kortava’s death; while the head of the legal regime department and the head of the security department were also dismissed.
Moreover, in a statement released on their official webpage, MCLA said the Public defender’s Office and the National Mechanism for the Prevention (uniting 20 different non-governmental organizations with the relevant trainings) are constantly carrying out monitoring of the prison system.
Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, also commented on the case. She said the investigation of Kortava's case is moving effectively and everyone who took part in this case will be charged. According to Tsulukiani, the investigation also must find out the existence of so-called thieves-in law.
18 year-old Kortava was arrested by Poti police in 2007 for having a dispute with police and resisting arrest. Sentenced to 2 years of detention, he participated in a prison break in 2008. According to his family, he did not accept guilt, but anyway he was sentenced to 17 years of detention.