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Prison abuse videos rock Georgia ahead of vote

Sep. 19, 2012 12:37
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Khatuna Kalmakhelidze is a Georgian politician who serves as the Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance
Photo by www.arsboni.livejournal.com

TBILISI, Georgia — Videos showing the abuse of prisoners in Georgia have led to streets protests and government claims of a political provocation ahead of parliamentary elections.

Hundreds of protesters blocked traffic in the center of the capital, Tbilisi, overnight after two television stations aired on Tuesday graphic videos of guards abusing prisoners, including one in which a prisoner is raped with a police night stick.

Three prison officials have been arrested, and the Interior Ministry says they were paid for orchestrating and filming the abuse by an inmate with connections to opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili. Ivanishvili denies this.

The minister responsible for Georgia's prisons resigned Wednesday, and President Mikhail Saakashvili promised that all perpetrators of the abuse would be punished.

Georgia holds a tightly contested parliamentary election on Oct. 1.

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