Khatuna Kalmakhelidze, minister in charge of the prison system, said on September 19, that she had filed for resignation after video footage of inmates’ abuse and rape in prison number 8 in Tbilisi emerged a day earlier.
She said that “it seems” all the efforts, undertaken to secure protection of human rights and introduce European standards in the penitentiary, “were not enough.”
“I regret about it very much; no matter who has organized it. I regret it much and I want to assume human and of course, political responsibility for it,” said Kalmakhelidze, who was appointed as the minister in charge of penitentiary in December, 2009.
Kalmakhelidze and Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia, who was prison system chief in 2005-2008 and who is allegedly still overseeing the system informally, became the key targets of protesters, who gathered after midnight at the Tbilisi State Concert Hall (Philharmonic Hall) and demanded their resignation, after two Tbilisi-based TV stations, Maestro and Channel 9, aired, among other videos, undated graphic images showing prison guards raping with a stick an inmate as the latter was weeping and begging guards to stop it. Protesters again gathered on Wednesday noon; calls for Akhalaia’s resignation are also voiced.