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MFA Responds to OSCE Statement on Prison Riot
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 4 Apr.'06 / 11:24

The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) blamed the OSCE Mission in Tbilisi for not providing sufficient information about the March 27 Tbilisi prison riot to the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, who said in a March 31 statement that “a lack of clarity exists” over the “violent incident” in the prison, which resulted in the death of seven inmates.

“Unfortunately, despite receiving an invitation to the briefing by the Ministry of Justice on March 28, nobody showed up from the office of the OSCE Mission to Georgia, which was supposed to inform the Chairman-in-Office about the incident. We believe that was the primary reason why Chairman-in-Office Karel De Gucht spoke about the existing lack of clarity in that case,” the Georgian MFA said in an information note issued on April 3.

The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Belgian Foreign Minister Karl De Gucht said that a lack of clarity was caused by “different reports on the exact circumstances of the events.” “I believe it would be appropriate to set up an independent and public enquiry to investigate the events, including allegations of a disproportionate use of force by government troops which resulted in a large number of victims," he added.
 
The Georgian MFA said that the incident was really “unpleasant” but that “the Georgian law enforcement agencies acted in full compliance with the law and the process of disseminating information regarding the incident was transparent.”

The Georgian authorities described the incident as “a prison riot” orchestrated by criminal bosses, both from within and outside the prison, who wanted to stage a massive jailbreak and create “massive destabilization” in the country.
 
Some human right groups, as well as opposition parties, have cast doubts on this version and allege that the riot was a spontaneous act of the prisoners to protest against the inhuman treatment exerted against the inmates overnight on March 27 by prison officials and, in particular, by Bacho Akhalaia – Chief of the Penitentiary. 

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