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16978Georgian Patriarch urges release of anti-torture protesters

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Sep 29, 2012

      26 September 2012, 16:46
      Georgian Patriarch urges release of anti-torture protesters

      Tbilisi, September 26, Interfax - The head of the Georgian Orthodox
      Church, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, has urged Georgia's government to
      release demonstrators who have been jailed for protests against torture
      in the country's prisons.

      "I repeatedly warned Ms. [Khatuna] Kalmakhelidze [former minister of
      corrections and legal assistance who resigned last week in a scandal
      over torture and rape in one of the prisons in the capital Tbilisi] that
      she should be like a mother to prison inmates, and that they should not
      be tortured no matter how guilty they were. I also warned her
      colleagues, but, apparently, this has not been enough, and they have
      gone on, and are going on, with those horrors," Patriarch Ilia said in a
      statement released on Wednesday.

      "Now other people have been jailed, those who are actively speaking
      about this are being arrested, and I want to ask our government to
      release those people, the new detainees. Because this will give rise to
      a new wave of confrontation, to hostility."

      The Patriarch said the Georgian Church had been proposing for a long
      time that chaplains be appointed for prisons, but that the initiative
      had still not materialized.

      "Of course, clerics do pay frequent visits to correctional institutions,
      but it is a completely different matter when a spiritual father who is
      vested with larger social responsibilities has the right of
      supervision," he said.