Saakashvili charged with illegal border crossing, receives powerful letter of Europe's support
Saakashvili charged with illegal border crossing
The charges of illegal border crossing was brought against the ex-President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili on October 20, 2021, who is already detained on other charges.
Earlier on the same day, a letter in support of Saakashvili, signed by 72 European politicians – MEPs and former presidents was published.
Mikhail Saakashvili secretly returned to Georgia on October 1, 2021 after eight years of absence, published several videos describing how he walks in Batumi and Tbilisi, then he was arrested and taken to a prison in the city of Rustavi, 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 case and sentenced to six years in prison.
Several other Georgian citizens were also charged with accompanying charges.
- Elguja Tsomai, who was arrested earlier, is accused of aiding Mikhail Saakashvili in illegal border crossing.
- Giorgi Narimanidze who was arrested the day before, was charged with concealing a serious crime.
- Tsotsoria’s father and son are also in custody; they are also accused of concealing a crime.
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How Saakashvili entered Georgia
According to the General Prosecutor’s Office, on September 28, 2021, at about 23:00, the “Vilnius” vessel entered the port of Poti, arriving from the port of Chernomorsk, Ukraine. From this ship at 01:04 on September 29, a trailer with dairy products belonging to the SCANIA / IKA TRANS company, which is owned by Elguja Tsomaya, was unloaded.
Tsomaya entered the port area in a truck, then opened the back door of the trailer. Mikheil Saakashvili got out from there and got into the passenger seat of the truck.
The prosecutor’s office said that 69 people were interrogated in this case, hundreds of video recordings and surveillance cameras were examined, searches and other investigative actions were carried out. The presence of Mikhail Saakashvili in the trailer with dairy products was confirmed by video recordings and video filming from his phone.
Saakashvili’s condition worsens, he has been transferred to hospital
After 20 days of hunger strike, Saakashvili agreed to be transferred from a prison cell to a clinic. According to his personal physician, his condition is rapidly deteriorating.
“While I am under arrest, I will not eat and am ready to die. At the same time, I want to keep my sanity and be able to work to the end. Therefore, I agree to the medical assistance of doctors, which will help me stay awake, albeit very limitedly. Then I will be able to participate in current events and help my country”, Mikheil Saakashvili wrote in a letter published by his lawyer Dmitry Sadzaglishvili.
“The society is very mobilized, and despite the situation in which I find myself, I am more optimistic than ever”, Saakashvili said.
European politicians: “Saakashvili’s arrest exacerbates the political crisis.
Saakashvili should be released from arrest pending trial”, said a statement released October 20 by the opposition Formula TV, signed by 72 European politicians – MEPs and former presidents.
The statement reads:
“The arrest of Saakashvili only aggravates the political crisis, the extreme polarization that Georgia has been in for many years. Media control, intimidation and covert surveillance of journalists, opposition politicians, activists and even foreign diplomats is practiced. The space and resources for the participation of the political opposition in governing the country are limited.
The era of politically motivated justice must finally end in Georgia. This was clearly stated in the agreement of April 19, 2021, which was signed by the ruling party and the opposition through the mediation of the European Union and the United States. Although it was later unilaterally rejected by the ruling party.
“The release of ex-President Saakashvili will show the desire of the Georgian authorities to pave the way to national accord, stability, and the desire to cope with the political crisis.
After the Rose Revolution in 2003 [which brought Mikheil Saakashvili and his team to power], the new Georgian government supported reforms aimed at ensuring security, economic and political integration with the West, which the Georgian people wanted.
Now that nearly 20 years have passed, it is easy to forget about the significant progress that has been made over those years.
In 2012, voters decided it was time for the other ruling party to have a chance to implement the necessary reforms, including in the justice system, and move the country forward towards integration with the West.
Then-President Mikheil Saakashvili set an important precedent for the entire region: he held free and fair elections, which led to the defeat of his party. Then he congratulated the new government on a peaceful, democratic transfer of power.
On October 1, 2021, President Saakashvili returned to Georgia and was immediately arrested on the basis of which he was tried in absentia. The accusation is known to be of a political nature. Saakashvili was one of dozens of former officials tried by their successors.
These charges have never been recognized internationally. Saakashvili has never been detained in connection with these charges, and there have been no extradition decisions. He continued to work and travel the world – because these accusations were recognized as part of the political persecution”, the statement said.
Every day, when the Georgian government continues to persecute its political rivals and predecessors for political reasons, it is another day that exacerbates critical political polarization in Georgia and makes it impossible to unite political forces around strategic national priorities”.
According to the signatories, there is no public confidence in the justice system in Georgia, and that is why it is necessary to create certain elements of international monitoring to help ease tensions in the country.