MEP Not Given Access to Saakashvili

Member of European Parliament Anna Fotyga (ECR, Poland), who arrived in Tbilisi on November 12, said she was refused to visit former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in prison hospital.

MEP Fotyga tweeted today she “regrets the lack of will and transparency on the side of [Government] of Georgia,” and reiterated “there is still a chance of solving the situation.”

“[The Government] of Georgia is fully responsible for life and health of the former President,” she added.

MEP Fotyga’s concerns over the Georgian ex-President earlier prompted scathing remarks from the Georgian Dream Government.

In October, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said “neither [MEP Anna] Fotyga nor [MEP Andrius] Kubilius, nor anyone else, represent anything for myself or our country. There are 700 Members in the European Parliament, we can’t dance to the tune of either Fotyga or Kubilius. Let everyone take care of their own country, nobody can stand in the way of fulfilling the law and justice in this country.”

Justice Minister responds

Georgian Justice Ministry released a letter by Minister Rati Bregadze addressed at MEP Fotyga, explaining the decision to grant her access.

Citing Saakashvili’s refusal of “essential medical treatment and the duty of the Penitentiary Service to ensure his health and safety,” Minister Bregadze said only the visitors prescribed by Georgia’s Prison Code are allowed for visits.

The penitentiary legislation allows close relatives, defense lawyers, the Public Defender, clergymen and law enforcement agency representatives to pay visits to inmates. Additionally, if the inmate is a foreign citizen – such as Saakashvili, a citizen of Ukraine – diplomats and consulate representatives of their home countries are allowed to visit.

The Justice Ministry also published a letter signed by MEP Fotyga, dated November 9 and adressed at Minister Bregadze, in which she requests to visit Saakashvili and notes that Georgian authorities in the past have allowed her to visit “former political prisoners.”

Minister Bregadze, in his response, maintained that during the Georgian Dream administration none of the Georgian prisoners were considered as a political prisoner “by the European Court of Human Rights or any other authoritative institutions.”

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was arrested on October 1, on the eve of local elections. He is now 44 days into hunger strike. On November 8, he was transferred to Gldani prison hospital against his will. On November 11, the authorities released two pieces of video footage showing Saakashvili dragged into the prison hospital. Saakashvili, his doctor and family demand his treatment in civilian clinic.

This article was updated.

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