Saakashvili trial: what happened in the courtroom
Today, on December 22, a trial in a case involving former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili was held in Tbilisi. Saakashvili participated in the meeting remotely from the Vivamed clinic. He wanted to address the citizens in Ukrainian, and to the judge’s demand that he speak Georgian he replied that he was a citizen of Ukraine. According to Saakashvili’s lawyer Shalva Khachapuridze, Saakashvili felt unwell and passed out, and the trial went on for about six hours without him.
Saakashvili’s next trial will take place on December 29. If he again delivers a speech in Ukrainian, his address will be translated into Georgian.
The Penitentiary Service of Georgia filed a motion to interrogate Saakashvili in order to identify “signs of simulation” in his actions. The judge denied the request.
During the court session, Khachapuridze asked Saakashvili to lift his shirt so that the public could see what condition he was in.
One witness for the defense is American expert psychiatrist Eric-David Goldsmith. According to him, Mikheil Saakashvili has symptoms of “rapidly progressing dementia.” He says that, like all patients with dementia, Saakashvili remembers the past perfectly but does not remember current events; it is difficult for him to assimilate new information.
“He used to have a sharp mind, quick thinking, but now his thought process is very slow and he often gets confused. He’s dejected, doesn’t look after his appearance, wears a shirt that reveals his belly, he’s untidy, and all these are also symptoms of dementia. But he is also very weak physically, it is difficult for him to get up from a chair, it is difficult to walk, he has lost weight, lost sensitivity, and experiences discomfort in his arms and legs,” Goldsmith explained.
The witness says that Saakashvili had a very hard time being transferred to Prison Hospital No. 18 and has post-traumatic disorder.
“This is an institution that he founded during his presidency. He was threatened by other prisoners there. Mikheil Saakashvili also says that prison officials and guards were not ready to help him. He couldn’t sleep because the prisoners were screaming. He feared for his life,” Goldsmith maintains.
Goldsmith believes that a person in this condition cannot be in prison and should be transferred to a Western clinic for treatment.
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Saakashvili has been in jail in Georgia for more than a year. He returned to Tbilisi at the end of September 2021 and was arrested on October 1.
In 2018 Saakashvili was convicted in two criminal cases — pardoning those convicted of the murder of Sandro Girgvliani, and beating deputy Valery Gelashvili. He was sentenced to six years in prison.
Tthree more criminal cases were initiated against him — about the dispersal of the November 2007 rally, the confiscation of the Imedi television company, the so-called “jacket case” related to the theft of budget funds, and finally illegally crossing the state border. The last case was initiated by the Georgian prosecutor’s office in 2021. According to investigators, Saakashvili secretly traveled from Ukraine to the port of Poti on a ship, hiding in a truck with dairy products.
Saakashvili considers all cases initiated against him to be politically motivated, and immediately after his arrest in October 2021 he went on a hunger strike which lasted fifty days and which seriously undermined his health.
On May 12, 2022, Saakashvili was transferred to the Vivamed clinic due to deteriorating health. During his stay at this clinic his condition did not improve, but worsened. His friends and family say he is getting worse day by day.
Members of a consortium of doctors created under the auspices of the Public Defender note that during his stay at Vivamed, Saakashvili lost more than 40 kilograms, and this is still going on. He has a fever of unknown etymology, anorexia, cachexia, muscle, joint and bone pain, and muscle spasms, which may be due to unknown infectious process or poisoning.
On December 2, American professor and toxicologist David Smith published a report dated November 28, 2022, stating that Saakashvili had been poisoned with heavy metals. Smith’s report notes that traces of mercury and arsenic were found in his body. The report also states that such doses of these substances could not have entered the body as a result of drug treatment.
On December 1 the Empathy Center published an expert opinion on the health of Mikheil Saakashvili, stating that Saakashvili was “practically healthy” at the time of his arrest, but today he is in danger of death.
On December 14, the Special Penitentiary Service published video footage of Mikheil Saakashvili, which, according to them, reflects the “state of the prisoner Mikheil Saakashvili” at different times. Most of the video was made in October and shows Saakashvili lying in a ward and having several nervous attacks. By publishing the video, Georgian Dream is trying to convince the public that Saakashvili is faking his condition and that he has mental rather than physiological problems. The last frame is from December, where Saakashvili is thin and hardly moves on his own.