Georgia prison abuse: Interior minister Akhalaia quits

Georgian students protest against torture in prisons (20 Sept 2012) Protests continued on Thursday over the mistreatment of prisoners

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Georgia's Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia has stepped down amid uproar over video footage that showed prison guards abusing inmates.

The minister said he felt "moral and political responsibility" that the practice of torture had not been eradicated from Georgia's jails.

Prisoners were shown being beaten and one was seen being sexually assaulted.

Protesters marched for a second day in the capital, Tbilisi, on Thursday in protest at the abuse.

There were also demonstrations in the cities of Batumi and Rustavi.

President Mikheil Saakashvili has suspended the country's entire prison staff, saying that police will be deployed in their place.

He has also announced that Georgia's human rights ombudsman will take over as prisons minister. Giorgi Tugushi's predecessor had already stepped down over the scandal.

Mr Tugushi, described by the president as a "very strong critic" of the prisons system, has promised a complete overhaul of the system.

The film which shows abuse in the Gldani prison No. 8 was broadcast on TV on Tuesday.

In one of the most disturbing scenes in the footage an inmate is seen being sexually assaulted with a broom.

Several prison officers identified in the video have been charged, the Georgian authorities say.

In a statement, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was "appalled by the shocking footage of abuses committed against inmates".

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