While speaking with journalists on 29 August Justice Minister Rati Bregadze addressed the Public Defender’s concerns about the malfunctioning of cameras for a certain period at the 12th Penitentiary in Rustavi, where the former deputy head of the State Security Service of Georgia (SSG) Ioseb (Soso) Gogashvili is in pre-trial detention, by explaining that “a certain bug was detected.”
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The Justice Minister’s comments follow the Public Defender’s statement on 24 August, which revealed the Office’s findings so far regarding its investigation into Gogashvili’s allegations that he and his family were threatened by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Vakhtang Gomelauri.
The Public Defender explained in the statement that although Gogashvili had revealed the specific time periods of the alleged criminal acts which occurred on 28 July to 5 August, and the Public Defender promptly requested relevant footage from the N12 Penitentiary, the Special Penitentiary Service informed them that on the indicated dates the recording devices were out of order. The Public Defender noted at the time that this response “raises certain questions and, at the same time, calls into question the protection of the physical safety of the prisoner, who should have been under electronic surveillance for 24 hours.”
“We did not hide this, we will answer the Public Defender, as well as the [Special] Investigation [Service] (SIS), that a bug was detected…,” Minister Bregadze said and emphasized that “what happened, how it happened, whoever is interested in this, by gathering this information, appropriate actions will be taken and [everything] will be addressed.”
The Justice Minister explained that the bug was only discovered after employees from the Justice Ministry started working on the Public Defender and SIS’ request for the video footage to be archived.
“Unfortunately, similar errors sometimes happen, we have provided information to the Public Defender, and the investigative body,” he remarked and added that “there could be many reasons” for the malfunction.
Minister Bregadze also underscored that the Justice Ministry is working on updating video cameras and related devices in order to transition to more modern systems where the possibility of similar malfunctions will be minimized.
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