The Special Penitentiary Service of Georgia refused the transfer of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili to his ongoing trial hearing at Tbilisi City Court, citing the risks of a conspiracy by his supporters to obstruct the convoy, as well as health concerns due to his weeks-long hunger strike.
Saakashvili, currently at a prison hospital where he was allegedly taken against his will on November 8, is standing trial on exceeding official authority in a series of events, including disbanding the 2007 anti-government protests and a raid on and “seizure” of Imedi TV station, then opposition channel.
Referring to the earlier charges by the State Security Service of Georgia regarding the conspiracy to commit the coup by Saakashvili’s supporters, the Penitentiary said “destructive actions,” such as blocking the path to the prison hospital to “cause chaos and uncontrollable situation” may have taken place during ex-President’s transfer to the City Court.
The Penitentiary Service further noted that since Saakashvili “has abandoned a substantive part of his treatment” while on hunger strike, his transfer to and attendance of a court trial “poses additional risk to his health.”
In the meantime, scores of Saakashvili’s supporters have gathered near the yard of the Tbilisi City Court as the trial has started and lawyers have been requesting for allowing ex-President’s attendance. Scores of police officers are seen securing the area.
Earlier today, police detained 46 protesters at opposition rallies on administrative offenses in multiple locations in Tbilisi. Most detentions took place outside the State Security Service building, where protesters demanded Saakashvili’s transfer to a civilian clinic and the depoliticization of the agency.
Political tensions have been rising in Georgia since the hotly-contested October 30 local election runoffs, which the opposition parties declared “void” and “falsified.” Hunger-striking ex-President’s transfer to Gldani prison hospital added further fuel to the fire.
Сonvicted in absentia on two separate charges, Saakashvili faces criminal charges in three additional cases. His lawyers and supporters have repeatedly raised concerns about the courts deliberately delaying trials to prevent the public appearance of the ex-President.