What did Mikheil Saakashvili say during his first appearance in court?
Mikhail Saakashvili in court
Two months after his arrest, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili attended the trial for the first time. The trial concerns illegal dispersal of the demonstration and raid of the Imedi TV on November 7, 2007. Saakashvili responded to the accusations and spoke about the ill-treatment in prison
The November 7 case
In response to the accusations, Mikheil Saakashvili said that “the country avoided the Russian scenario”, which was led by the billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili.
“Georgia went to NATO. In 2006, Putin told me that he would do everything to stop this process.
During the same year, President of Belarus, Lukashenko, asked me who Arkady Patarkatsishvili was, who apparently invited him for a meeting. I told him that he can meet with him if he wants, but nothing will come of such meeting. He did not accept it.
But Patarkatsishvili nevertheless arrived in Minsk, and then he was received by Lukashenka. He told me that Putin called him and said that he needed to meet with Patarkatsishvili”, Saakashvili said.
The ex-president also added that three FSB agents met with Patarkatsishvili, after which Putin announced Lukashenko as the next president of Georgia. According to him, this happened in September 2007.
Saakashvili said a “historic conference” was held in Tbilisi in October 2007, attended by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, as well as several foreign ministers, the US Ambassador to NATO and the US Deputy Secretary of State. Saakashvili explains that at this conference it was practically decided to grant Georgia the MAP, and immediately after that, on November 2, talks began in Tbilisi:
“I am far from the opinion that all the people who took to the streets danced to the Russian tune or knew about Patarkatsishvili’s plans.
It was a difficult period in the sense that we were carrying out very painful reforms. Several thousand people were left without work as part of the police reform. Too many people have failed to get on a new track. Inflation was high. Someone had more income, someone less. Therefore, people had an objective opportunity to get angry with us”.
According to him, the dispersal of the rally takes place in many countries and “no one thinks about initiating cases, except for special maniacs”. Saakashvili noted that the process was led by the Minister of Internal Affairs and he watched it on TV, so he did not give any directives to anyone.
“After that, I resigned, reduced my presidential term by one and a half years and called new presidential elections, which was difficult, but I won. I did this to get a new mandate from the Georgian people.
“We did this to thwart Russia’s plans”, Saakashvili said.
Girgvliani and Gelashvili cases
According to Saakashvili, the Girgvliani case does not exist, it was named like that for the sake of PR. According to him, the officers who committed this crime were arrested, and after the 2008 war, an amnesty was announced for 280 people with military ranks. Within the framework of which the term of imprisonment was halved for those convicted of the murder of a bank employee Girgvliani in 2006, and they were released by court’s decision.
As for the case of the beating of Gelashvili, he said, the only evidence is the classic “rumors” in the style of “I heard what he heard”.
“I am judged by these testimonies, which cannot be accepted as evidence in any country or in any legal system in the world. What is surprising is that these sentences were passed and sent to Interpol. Interpol laughed and rejected these sentences as shameful and did not even consider them”, the ex-president said.
Inhuman treatment in prison
According to the ex-president, after his condition worsened due to the hunger strike, he was fraudulently transferred from the Rustavi prison to the Gldani prison hospital. First, he was told that he was being sent to a multidisciplinary clinic, but ended up in Gldani prison, where as soon as the car door opened, the inmates immediately started a so-called “noise”, shouting insults and threats against the former president.
After he protested, the convoy dragged Saakashvili out of the car by force and dragged him across the floor.
Saakashvili also recalled that he lost consciousness in the prison hospital, and noted that without the intervention of the doctor of the Republican Hospital, Guliko Kiliptari, he would not be alive today.
“I was lucky to pass out in the presence of my lawyers, and I was lucky that on the morning when the chief doctor of this concentration camp looked at me and thought that I was already dying. It was an assassination attempt”, Saakashvili said.
It was a shameful fact, he said, when the prime minister counted his honey jars and government officials watched what he bought in the prison store:
“There was a ‘kind’ proposal that I have the right to commit suicide, statements about whether I would survive the 41st day of the hunger strike. In addition, different politicians made different bets – whether I will live for 45 or 49 days”.
Errors during the UNM reign
“Have we made mistakes? More than enough! There are many mistakes that I regret very, very much, but mistakes and misconduct are one thing, and guilt is another. I am Mikheil Saakashvili, and there has never been a criminal president in Georgia”, Saakashvili said.
According to him, one of these mistakes was that he did not ensure the independence of the judiciary, which, along with other citizens of Georgia, now affected him personally:
“I apologize to everyone who came in contact with this, as well as for all other mistakes that were made through negligence”.
Gratitude to the Public Defender
“If it were not for the courage of the Ombudsman Nino Lomjaria and the adherence to principles of the members of the council of doctors gathered by her, I would not be alive today. In practice, she, together with the Empathy (NGO) center and, most importantly, with many people on the streets, saved not only my life, but also the life of (deputy) Elene Khoshtaria and many other starving people to whom I am very grateful”, Saakashvili said.
He also expressed gratitude to the chairman of the United National Movement Nika Melia for not succumbing to the provocations of the authorities during the protests.
“Georgian people, don’t you miss the feeling of pride in your country?”
I walked freely in Georgia for several days and had the opportunity to communicate with people before I was captured, and I saw that people are very upset, people are very angry, people practically do not smile, people are very unhappy. I want to tell you, dear Georgian people, I want to ask you – do you miss the feeling of pride in your country? Did you miss the pace and drive of development?”, Saakashvili addressed the population of Georgia.
According to him, Georgia was the number one economic reformer, and today it is the number one country in terms of deaths from coronavirus:
“Georgia has completely lost the last nine years, because in 9 years (of Saakashvili’s rule), during the war, during the global economic crisis, we have grown 4 times. The national welfare increased 4 times, the budget of Georgia increased 12 times, salaries and pensions increased 10 times. And then, 9 years later, wages practically fell because the exchange rate fell and the economy didn’t grow a single percentage point. This is a tragedy, how can we all look at it calmly and take it for granted?”
Rally and arrests in the City Court courtyard
Police detained 15 people during a protest in front of the Tbilisi City Court, where Mikhail Saakashvili is being tried.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the protesters violated the norms allowed by the law on peaceful assemblies.
After tensions arose at the rally in front of the court, the police used pepper gas against the demonstrators.
Several citizens were injured and asked for medical assistance. In addition, there was a confrontation between civil activist Besik Tamliani and the police. Opposition politician Gigi Ugulava was also detained.