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Georgian interior minister steps down over torture scandal

September 20, 2012, 23:29 UTC+3

The most numerous protest actions were held in Tbilisi and Batumi

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TBILISI, September 20 (Itar-Tass) — Georgian Interior Ministry Bacho Akhalaya resigned from his post on Thursday, the Georgian Interior Ministry said in a recently published statement.

“As a citizen of Georgia, I was deeply shocked by a crime committed in Gldanskaya prison. Despite the fact that I haven’t been in charge of the penitentiary system for the past few years, some officials who ought to have prevented such horrible actions against the inmates started working in the penitentiary system under my leadership,” Akhalaya went on to say.

“I feel moral and political responsibility for not stopping that terrible practice. That is why I submitted my letter of resignation to the Georgian president,” the Georgian Interior Ministry said in its statement.

Protest actions were held in several Georgian cities on Thursday. The protesters demanded that the resigned ex-minister in charge of the penitentiary system, probation and legal assistance, Khatuna Kalmekhidze, be arrested. They also called for the resignation of the incumbent interior minister. Bacho Akhalaya headed Georgia’s penitentiary system in 2005-2008. Human rights activists believe that it was he who introduced methods of torture and abuse of inmates in Georgian prisons.

The most numerous protest actions were held in Tbilisi and Batumi. Demonstrations also took place in Kutaisi, Akhmeta and other cities.

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