The U.S. State Department has urged the Georgian Government to ensure former President Mikheil Saakashvili “is afforded fair treatment” as per Georgia’s legislation and international human rights commitments and obligations.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told a press briefing on October 4 the U.S. is aware of the reports of Saakashvili’s detention in Tbilisi, and is “following developments very closely.”
Police detained ex-President Saakashvili, wanted on several charges, on October 1, after he had returned from Ukraine ahead of Georgia’s local elections.
The former President has gone on a hunger strike in N12 prison in the southern town of Rustavi. He faces six years of prison, but denies all charges as politically motivated.
Saakashvili, who left the country in November 2013 amid the end of his second presidential term, was sentenced in absentia in 2018 on two separate abuse of power charges – three years for pardoning the former Interior Ministry officials, convicted in the high-profile murder case of Sandro Girgvliani and six years for organizing an attack on opposition MP Valeri Gelashvili.
The Prosecutor’s Office said in a late-night briefing on October 1 that the Interior Ministry is leading an investigation over Saakashvili’s illegal border crossing. In this regard, new charges may be brought against Saakashvili under Article 344 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, punishable by three to five years of prison.
“[Saakashvili’d better] behave, otherwise, we will bring more articles [charges against him],” said Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on October 3.
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