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State Fails to Respect Saakashvili’s Dignity, Public Defender Says

The Public Defender’s Office said today placing Mikheil Saakashvili in Gldani #18 prison hospital “clearly violates the state’s obligation to respect human dignity,” calling on the Justice Minister Rati Bregadze and the Special Penitentiary Service to immediately transfer the hunger-striking ex-President to an alternative medical facility.

The statement came after Public Defender Nino Lomjaria visited Mikheil Saakashvili in the prison clinic late last night.

The Penitentiary Service transferred Saakashvili to the No.18 penitentiary medical facility yesterday evening. His whereabouts were unknown to the ex-Presidents’ lawyers and family for at least an hour. Reports about his transfer came around 18:00, while the Penitentiary Service made an official announcement at 18:57 on Facebook. Saakashvili, his doctor and lawyers, and the Ombudsperson have all opposed his transfer to the prison hospital, citing security risks and inadequate medical equipment, advocating instead for his placement at a civilian clinic.

Lomjaria cited Mikheil Saakashvili as saying he was not informed about his transfer to the prison hospital and was instead told that he would be admitted to a civilian hospital following a medical council’s decision, to which he reportedly agreed.

The Public Defender’s office said that in N12 prison in Rustavi, where Saakashvili was held before his transfer yesterday, they could not find any documents that would show the ex-President was informed about the decision and that he consented to the transfer.

Saakashvili reportedly told Lomjaria that he was forcibly taken into the prison hospital building. The Public Defender’s Office said they provided information about the incident to the State Inspector’s Service, an agency with the authority to probe allegations of abuse of power. Today, the State Inspector’s Service said it launched an investigation into “the possible inhumane treatment” of the former President.

In the statement, the Public defender also noted that inmates of the N8 prison, located right around the N18 prison hospital, were heard bawling insults and threats at Saakashvili. According to the Public Defender, the shouting can also be heard in the ex-President’s prison cell.

“The situation will probably persist and Mikheil Saakashvili’s lawyers and other visitors will be subjected to similar verbal aggression,” the agency warned. Such an environment, the Public Defender said, “grossly violates the individual right to dignity.”

The Ombudsperson also reiterated her previous statements where she had stressed Saakashvili’s transfer to the prison clinic would lead to “disorganization of N8 and N18 facilities due to significant threats of verbal aggression, noise and harassment.”

The Public Defender further noted that at least since January 18, 2021, no other detainees have been transferred to the Gldani prison hospital from the No.12 Rustavi prison, where convicted former officials are held.

As for the medical equipment, the Public Defender said that a computed tomography (CT) scan was brought in to the No.18 Gldani hospital since the previous inspections, but the facility still lacks a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine requested by the medical council.

According to the statement, Mikheil Saakashvili continues the hunger strike without receiving the prescribed medication, minerals, or vitamins, and refuses medical help.

Justice Minister Rati Bregadze said yesterday that Saakashvili “physically and verbally abused” the staff upon arriving at the No.18 facility. Also, the Penitentiary Service  released yesterday footage of the former president walking out of the N12 Rustavi prison, which, according to the Service, “makes it clear” that Saakashvili did not leave the facility “against his will.”

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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