Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Lyudmyla Denisova is visiting Tbilisi, where she met today jailed Georgian ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, on a hunger strike since his arrest on October 1.
The prison visit comes amid the ongoing controversy over the location of the possible hospital treatment for Saakashvili, currently a citizen of Ukraine, whose health continues to deteriorate. Denisova said ahead of the meeting she would examine conditions of Saakashvili’s health, medical care and the prison cell.
After the meeting, the Ukrainian ombudsperson said Saakashvili considers his life to be at risk, and himself to be a “prisoner of [Vladimir] Putin,” the Russian President.
Denisova appealed to the Georgian authorities to transfer the former President to a private hospital instead of the hospital of the No. 18 prison clinic, if necessary. She stressed Saakashvili does not wish to be transferred to the prison hospital, thinking his safety will not be guaranteed there.
She added that a doctor has also arrived from Ukraine, and will assess Saakashvili’s health.
Citing the ex-President’s lawyers, Denisova claimed the Article 6 of the Convention on the right to a fair trial is being violated as public court hearings in the ongoing misappropriation of funds and exceeding official authority cases are not being set.
She also said that under the same article, the right to trial within a reasonable time is also being breached, arguing eight years of ongoing proceedings do not qualify under “reasonable time.” Saakashvili was charged in absentia in both cases in 2014.
The Ukrainian Ombudsperson said while Georgian law allows Justice Ministry to force feeding of prisoners on a hunger strike in case of such recommendation by a group of doctors, ECHR case law qualifies it as torture and inhuman treatment (Article 3). She stressed that the ex-President is against forced feeding.
Denisova stressed she will relay her observations to the Ukrainian President, EU Member State Embassies in Ukraine, and the European Parliament.
She noted that upon entering Georgia, she was delayed and questioned for forty minutes regarding the purpose of her trip.
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.
New charges were brought against Saakashvili on October 20, over illegal border crossing under Article 344 (1) of the Criminal Code of Georgia, three to five years of prison.
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