Georgian opposition gives government 24-hours to transfer ex-president Saakashvili to civil clinic
Georgian opposition gives government an ultimatum
On the evening of November 6, the leading opposition United National Movement party issued an ultimatum to the Georgian government: within 24 hours, ex-President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili, who is imprisoned and has declared a hunger strike, must be transferred from prison to a civilian hospital.
If the demand is not met, on Monday, November 8, a mass protest will be held on Freedom Square.
“We will gather everyone there, from all over the country. And there we will inform you about our further actions and demands”, said the leader of the party Nika Melia, speaking on the evening of November 6 at a rally near in front of the prison in Rustavi, where Mikheil Saakashvili is currently held.
Mikheil Saakashvili secretly returned to his homeland on October 1, 2021, after eight years of absence, and published several videos of him walking around Batumi and Tbilisi, after which he was arrested and sent to prison, where he immediately went on a hunger strike.
Several criminal cases have been launched against the third president of Georgia, he has already been convicted in one of them and sentenced to six years in prison. Lawyers demand Saakashvili be transferred to a civilian hospital, as his health condition is deteriorating progressively.
The Ministry of Interior says that if necessary, Saakashvili will be admitted to the prison hospital. However, according to the Public Defender of Georgia, there is no necessary equipment and safe conditions for the ex-president there, who has many enemies in the criminal world.
Saakashvili himself does not agree to be transferred to a prison hospital and categorically refuses to end the hunger strike.
Criminal cases – why is Saakashvili prosecuted in Georgia?
Criminal cases against Saakashvili were initiated in four episodes:
- Abuse of power amid the January 2005 murder of bank employee Sandro Girgvliani. Girgvliani, aged 28, was found dead on the outskirts of Tbilisi after an altercation with senior Interior Ministry officials in a restaurant. In this case, four employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were convicted, but soon they were released on amnesty. The investigation believes that it was Saakashvili who protected the real criminals.
2. Abuse of power during the dispersal of the rally on November 7, 2007, and the persecution of the Imedi TV company.
3. Abuse of power amid the beating of opposition MP Valery Gelashvili. The attackers were wearing masks, and an investigation under Saakashvili’s rule found no culprit.
4. Misuse of budgetary funds. The first case under this article, which became public, concerned the purchase of six jackets for the president at the expense of the state, as well as a lunch at a sushi bar.
Later, state-funded recreation in luxury hotels, visits to cosmetic clinics, massages and purchase of clothing were added to the case.
In general, the alleged embezzlement amounted to 8.8 million lari [about $ 3.3 million]. In connection with this case, the property of the Saakashvili family in Georgia was arrested – his dacha in Kakheti, the apartment owned by Saakashvili’s wife Sandra Roelofs, as well as his grandmother’s 12-year-old Honda car.
Saakashvili does not admit the charges against him. He was put on the wanted list, and Georgia periodically demanded his extradition from Ukraine.
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Rustavi rally: activist’s death, tents and confrontation with police
The activists who participated in the rally on November 6 near the prison in Rustavi set up tents there and intend to remain there until the demand for Saakashvili’s transfer to the hospital is fulfilled.
During the rally, there was also a confrontation between activists and the police, five people were detained.
A tragic incident took place at the rally. One of the participants suddenly became ill and died shortly after the arrival of the ambulance.
“Small amount of juices and puree” – how Saakashvili’s hunger strike goes
Shortly before the start of the rally, the penitentiary service published a photo and video showing Mikheil Saakashvili taking food. The service stated that it publishes these materials, as the topic is of “great interest to the public”.
The Public Defender stated that during her visit to the prison she received confirmation that Mikheil Saakashvili had received small amounts of juices and purees since October 30 at the request of the prison medical staff.
According to Nino Lomjaria, the medical staff explains that this amount was issued due to the patient’s state of health and should not be considered food.
“There is no mention of food intake in Saakashvili’s medical record. There are also no changes in the form of the hunger strike”, the Ombudsman said.
After the publication of the video, the ex-president refused to take even the small amounts of juices, glucose and electrolytes, as well as medications and medical treatment.
After that, the Public Defender made a new statement, claiming that the public dissemination of such materials violates the rights of both Saakashvili and all prisoners in general.
The video publication was also condemned by the state inspection service, which reinstated the importance of protecting the confidentiality of Saakashvili.
“A person deprived of freedom must be able to trust the institution and medical staff in which he is held and from whom he receives assistance. Otherwise, he has grounds to refuse to receive medical assistance, and this may endanger his life and health”, the service said in a statement.