Former Georgian minister charged with torture
Protesters rally against torture in prisons in Tbilisi on September 19.
November 13th, 2012
03:09 PM ET

Former Georgian minister charged with torture

The former interior minister of Georgia was charged Tuesday with torture and false imprisonment, state media in Russia reported.

Bacho Akhalaia resigned in September after videos surfaced on YouTube purportedly showing guards abusing prisoners.

Prosecutors said Akhalaia in February 2010 ordered guards to lock up 19 military members in unheated cells, where the men received no food for three days, RIA Novosti reported.

Akhalaia and two other military officials were charged with torture, false imprisonment, degrading treatment, physical and verbal abuse, and abuse of office, the news agency said.

In September, protests broke out after four videos became public. Georgian protesters, religious leaders and politicians all called for Akhalaia’s resignation after images.

At the time he quit, Akhalaia released a statement saying, "I am deeply horrified with the crime that has been revealed in Gldani N8 prison," referring to the facility in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital.

The country's Interior Ministry blamed certain prison employees for the degrading treatment.

But a former prison guard who left the country about four months ago and is seeking political asylum in Belgium put the blame on Akhalaia.

"I have been working in the system since 2001, but since 2005 when Akhalaia was put in charge, he introduced his criminal elements of leadership," Vladimir Bedukadze told CNN in late September.

Akhalaia, who was Georgia's defense minister from 2009 until he became interior minister in July, is being held in custody until he faces trial, RIA Novosti reported.

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Filed under: Courts • Georgia • Justice • World