Akhalaia, who was prison system chief in 2005-2008 and allegedly remained in charge of the penitentiary informally before the government was hit by prison abuse scandal following the release of shocking videos of inmates’ torture and rape on September 18, less than two weeks before the parliamentary elections on October 1.
Some of those senior prison officials arrested in connection to inmates’ abuse case were Akhalaia’s close associates.
“I, as a citizen of our country, was appalled by the crime, which has been revealed in the Gldani prison No.8,” Akhalaia said in a written statement on the Interior Ministry’s website.
“Although I was no longer the head of the penitentiary for years already, some of the [officials] in its leadership, who were obliged to prevent such appalling cases, started working [in the penitentiary system] when it was led by me. Hence, I feel moral and political responsibility because we failed to prevent this terrible practice. So I have filed for resignation to the president,” Akhalaia said in the statement.
First Deputy Interior Minister, Eka Zguladze, is now an acting interior minister.
Akhalaia’s resignation means that the cabinet should now face a confidence vote in the Parliament, because since last confidence vote in July, when Vano Merabishvili became the new PM, one-third of 21-member cabinet has been changed. According to the constitution the President should submit within a week to the Parliament government members for approval.
Zguladze, the acting interior minister, said in her televised statement late on September 20, that “there is no place for violence in Georgia” and vowed to secure safety of the citizens, “including during the elections.”
“Our people will vote in free and calm environment; This ministry will be a guarantor of that,” Zguladze said.