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Saakashvili Found Guilty of Exceeding Authority, Organizing Attack on Opposition MP

Tbilisi City Court found ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili guilty of exceeding authority and organizing attack against then opposition MP Valeri Gelashvili, who was brutally beaten up in Tbilisi in 2005.

According to the City Court, the attack on Gelashvili, a businessman and a member of the Republican Party, was organized in retaliation for his June 2005 newspaper interview in which he accused then President Saakashvili of seizing his property, and voiced insults against Saakashvili and his family.

After this interview was published, Saakashvili, “driven by personal revenge,” instructed then Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili to beat up Gelashvili. But after Okruashvili refused, Saakashvili ordered the same to then Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, who fulfilled the task on July 14, 2005.

“The victim sustained life threatening injuries, causing permanent facial disfigurement,” the City Court added.

The ex-President was sentenced to eight years in prison and was banned from holding public office for three years. Saakashvili’s sentences, however, were reduced pursuant to the country’s Law on Amnesty, and subsequently, the ex-President was sentenced to six years in prison with a 2.25-year ban on holding public office.

Mikheil Saakashvili, who denies the accusations, said it was “impossible to regard the decision as legal.” “This is a circus that has nothing to do with legality… This has to do with [ex-Prime Minister Bidzina] Ivanishvili wanting to keep me away from Georgia,” said the ex-President, who now lives in the Netherlands.

The Prosecutor’s Office filed criminal charges against Saakashvili on August 5, 2014. Former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, former director of the Special Operations Department, Erekle Kodua, and former head of division at the Special Operations Department, Gia Siradze, have also been sentenced in the same case.

This is the second sentence delivered against Saakashvili in Georgia; on June 5, the ex-President was found guilty of abusing power in pardoning the former Interior Ministry officials, who were convicted in the high-profile murder case of Sandro Girgvliani. He is also wanted on two additional criminal cases, which he denies as politically motivated

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