World Bulletin / News Desk
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili vowed to punish those responsible for torturing and raping prisoners, after a video of abuse in a jail sparked angry street protests two weeks before a parliamentary election.
The demonstrations erupted in the capital Tbilisi on Tuesday night after footage of the torture was shown on pro-opposition television channels. Thousands of people joined the protests on Wednesday, blocking two main streets and calling for the resignation of senior ministers.
The government said the video had been staged and recorded by guards who had been bribed by "politically motivated persons".
The prosecutor's office said 10 people had been arrested including the head of the prison in Tbilisi, two deputies and a number of guards. The prisons minister said she was resigning.
"Tonight, I tell all the victims of these inhuman actions and the whole nation that the Georgia we have built and we are all building together shall not and will not tolerate such behaviour - in its prisons or anywhere else," Saakashvili said in a statement issued in the early hours of Wednesday.
"Those who committed these crimes will spend long years in jail, as will those who bribed guards to stage these horrors and film them," he said.
Later Saakashvili said radical reforms should be enacted in the former Soviet republic's penitentiary system and ordered patrol policemen to take on prison duties while reforms were worked out.
"This system, the way it is now, should be entirely abolished," Saakashvili said at the meeting with the prime minister, justice minister and prosecutor-general.
The video shows groups of guards beating, punching and humiliating prisoners, and inmates raped with objects. It was screened by two opposition-leaning television channels, one owned by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose Georgian Dream coalition is challenging Saakashvili's ruling United National Movement in an Oct. 1 parliamentary election.
Protesters demanded the resignation of the justice and interior ministers and an independent investigation. Some of them chanted: "Misha, go!", referring to Saakashvili.
Similar protests were held in several major towns in Georgia, a transit route for oil and gas supplies across the volatile Caucasus.
A few political leaders, including Ivanishvili, joined the protests, but called for calm ahead of the election.
"Under no circumstances should you start unorganised street protests and under no circumstances should your actions be governed by anger," Ivanishvili said.
Human rights groups and the U.S. Embassy condemned the prisoner abuse and called on the government to conduct a prompt and independent investigation.
Georgian Dream, which unites several opposition parties, has attracted large numbers to its rallies, but still trails the ruling party in opinion polls.
Ivanishvili, 56, has a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at $6.4 billion. He and other opponents accuse Saakashvili of curbing freedoms and criticise him for leading Georgia into a disastrous war with Russia in August 2008.
458 candidates, including 97 women, find their way to provincial council seats; IEC Chairman blames delay in announcing results to technical problems
The United Nations General Assembly adopts resolution granting observer status to the Developing-Eight, or D-8.
The Palestinian youths pelted Israeli troops with stones and empty bottles, but the troops responded by firing teargas and birdshot, wounding ten Palestinians and making dozens of others experience temporary asphyxiation
More than 36 million citizens are set to vote and choose among 29 political parties in Sunday's early general election.
Qatar has renounced deporting Muslim Brothers leaders, Egyptian media reported.
Ismail Radwan said that the new round of indirect negotiations will start on Monday in Cairo as scheduled
A Kurdish intelligence officer in Zumar said peshmerga forces had advanced from five directions in the early morning after coalition air strikes on ISIL positions
Soldiers exchanged heavy fire with the militants, whose exact affiliation was unclear, and had surrounded them by midday, security sources said
60 % of French prisoners are Muslims “originally or culturally” according to French deputy Guillaume Larrive
Colorectal cancer is the leading cancer in males followed by leukemia and prostate cancer, according to the registry.
"Egypt is fighting an existential war," al-Sisi said, going on to say that his country will take "measures" along border with the Gaza Strip following the attack
Human Rights Watch calls for prosecution of military involved in killing 85 Muslims in southern Thailand
Kurdish media claimed the first units tomorrow to across Turkey's border, but news on when the peshmerga will start their passage is denied
Hamas said that two members had been detained in Bethlehem and two others in Hebron late Friday.
Jabbari had been sentenced to death in accordance "qisas" (eye for an eye) law after being found guilty of stabbing dead an older man with a kitchen knife seven years ago.
Red flags bearing the logo of Italy's largest union, the CGIL, waved over town squares as thousands of people rallied behind the group's call for job creation and job security