30 May, 2013
Exclusive interview with Sozar Subari, head of penitentiary system

‘For security reasons, ex-Premier Vano Merabishvili’s cell is controlled by video-eye’, - declared Sozar Subari, Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance of Georgia. Being an advisor of UN Human Rights High Commissioner, first of all we asked him to assess May 17 events in the capital. Sozar Subari – For 9 years, Georgian society was in the condition of pressed spring and this spring is stretching now. The May 17 action, action
of Zestafoni market employees at Bidzina Ivanishvili’s house, the ‘Fero’ workers strike, different demands of inmates are expression of it. Emotions have found space and everything exploded altogether.
Q. – Could you imagine that Merabishvili would be an inmate of the department subordinated to you?
A. – I imagined it quite vividly that Merabishvili, like those who aren’t detained yet, would be a prisoner. Marabishvili is in a single confinement cell. He was Interior Minister and Premier and we couldn’t place him in a cell where there are inmates arrested by him; but he is in the same conditions as the other prisoners.
Q. – Ex Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia who is opposing Merabishvili is serving his term in the same prison.
A. – They are not in touch with one another. The ex-Ministers are protected here.
Q. – You criticized the previous authorities for death of inmates. Several days ago a prisoner was beaten to death in Geguti prison.
A. – Our press-service published incorrect information as if the prisoner rolled down the stairs. Investigation showed that he was injured as a result of beating. The inmate who participated in his beating is identified. In 6 buildings of Geguti prison there are 2 thousand inmates. The yard occupies several hectares. It’s impossible to control every section of it so that if there is some brawl between inmates the observers come there momentarily. This case will be investigated and the administration staff members who didn’t pay sufficient attention to it will be punished.
Several weeks ago my colleagues went to Austria to share their experience. In Grad there is a high security prison having 300 prisoners out of which 6 are Georgians. Do you know what the Georgians did? They were ‘observers’ collecting common fund. They had some Russians, the so-called ‘infantry’ who carried out their orders. The warden was shocked as he could do nothing. This is happening in a high security prison with only 300 hundred inmates.
Q. – The Premier mentioned the President’s guilt in Girgvliani case. Do you rule out the possibility that Mikheil Saakashvili may spend some time in the department subordinated to you?
A. – I don’t exclude it but hopefully I won’t be head of this department.
Q. – Are you going to leave the ministry?
A. – Three things are left for me to do and if I fulfill them I’ll consider my mission completed – program of treatment of C-hepatitis; change of narcotics policy and splitting the inmates so that those with criminal mentality have no connection with prisoners serving the terms for other charges.
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