Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili argued that “no one can obstruct the administration of justice, no matter how many MEPs come forward,” alluding to a letter – signed, among others, by several Members of the European Parliament – calling for the release of hunger striking former President Mikheil Saakashvili.
Along with the Members of the European Parliament, Lithuanian MPs, as well as former leaders of Latvia, Ukraine, and Sweden have addressed to European Council President Charles Michel, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and European Parliament President David Sassoli.
“It does not matter to us what any Member of the European Parliament says, what matters to us is what our people say,” PM Garibashvili said, noting that Saakashvili’s “many crimes” have been “proven by the Prosecutor’s Office, the investigation, and the courts of all instances.”
“We have a fully transparent process, we guarantee the rule of law,” asserted the Prime Minister.
Saakashvili, now a Ukrainian citizen, left the country in November 2013 amidst the end of his second presidential term. He was wanted by the Georgian Dream government on multiple charges for some eight years.
The former President 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. He is also charged with misappropriation of public funds and exceeding official authority in the 2007 anti-government protests case.
Saakashvili denies all the charges as politically motivated.
Since October 1, Georgian authorities are leading a new investigation over Saakashvili’s illegal border crossing. In this regard, new charges may be brought against him under Article 344 of the Criminal Code, punishable by three to five years of prison.