The Special Penitentiary Service of Georgia has again refused to transfer ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili for his trial hearing at the Tbilisi City Court, citing risks of obstruction by the former president’s supporters, as well as health concerns.
Saakashvili is standing trial today in the misappropriation of public funds case. Previously, on November 10, he was similarly denied the possibility to attend a hearing into the case of exceeding official authority, concerning the crackdown on the 2007 anti-government protests and a raid on and “seizure” of Imedi TV station.
Referring to a coup plot investigation by the State Security Service, the Special Penitentiary Service argued Saakashvili’s supporters could possibly interfere with the transfer, block the roads and cause an uncontrollable situation. It also argued attending the hearing could pose security risks for the ex-President as well.
The Penitentiary Service noted that as Saakashvili, currently hospitalized in the Gldani #18 clinic against his will, refuses the “essential part of treatment,” his attendance at the hearing could pose an additional health risk.
The hearing has already begun at the Tbilisi City Court. Before entering the Court, Saakashvili’s defense lawyer Beka Basilaia asserted the authorities have “taken away” the ex-President’s right to defend himself in court.
Besides the two cases, Saakashvili is charged with illegal crossing of the state border. He was convicted in absentia in 2018 in 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.
Former Georgian President Saakashvili was arrested on October 1, on the eve of local elections, and he has been on a hunger strike since.
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