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Georgian Interior Minister Resigns Amid Protests Over Inmate Abuse

Bacho Akhalaia has stepped down.
TBILISI -- Georgia's interior minister has resigned amid a scandal over a video purportedly showing inmates being abused by prison guards.

Bacho Akhalaia said in a statement he felt "moral and political responsibility" for the failure to eradicate torture from Georgia's prisons.

Protesters in Tbilisi and other cities have been calling for Akhalaia's resignation since the videos were broadcast by opposition-run television this week, just days before parliamentary elections.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on September 20 she was "appalled by the shocking footage of abuses."

President Mikheil Saakashvili appointed the country's rights ombudsman to replace the prisons minister, who resigned on September 19.

Saakashvili's ruling party faces a challenge in the October 1 elections from an opposition bloc led by billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili.

With reporting by AFP and