Bachana Akhalaia© REUTERS/ David Mdzinarishvili
Georgia's Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia© AFP 2013/ VANO SHLAMOV
MOSCOW, September 20 (RIA Novosti)
Georgia’s top police official, Interior Minister Bachana Akhalaia, has resigned, the ministry said on its website.
First Deputy Interior Minister Ekaterina Zguladze has been named to replace him, the Novosti-Gruzia agency reported.
The resignation comes on the third day of protests in Tbilisi over claims that inmates at a facility in Tbilisi, Gldani Prison Number 8, were subjected to torture.
The protesters, as well as religious leaders and politicians, had all called for Akhalaia’s resignation.
"As a citizen of Georgia, I am appalled at the crimes committed at Gldani Prison No. 8," Akhalaia said in his resignation letter, as cited by Novosti-Gruzia.
"Although in recent years I was not in charge of correctional facilities, some of the top officials whose job it was to prevent such horrible incidents began their work in the system while under my leadership," said Akhalaia, who had served in the post less than three months.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has vowed to punish the people responsible for the torture.
On Tuesday, the Interior Ministry issued a statement saying that incidents of torture had been uncovered at the prison. Their investigation revealed that prison staff was responsible for “the inhumane treatment of prisoners, and for filming it.”
Local media organizations have broadcast what they claim is the full, unedited, footage.
On Wednesday morning, Corrections and Legal Minister Khatuna Kalmakhelidze announced her resignation, saying she “felt responsible” for the incidents.
Ten employees in the criminal justice system have been detained, including the deputy head of the department, and Gldani's director.
The Interior Ministry previously said that jailed opposition leader Tamaza Tamazashvili had been involved in organizing the incidents.
Georgians will vote in hotly contested parliamentary elections on October 1.
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