Saakashvili Appeals to Int’l Community

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has addressed the international community from Gldani prison hospital, “urging my friends all around the world who care about freedom to raise their voices against lawlessness and the emergence of Putin-style practices in Georgia, a country where people are fighting for democracy and which was once hailed as a beacon of freedom.”

The missive, penned on November 15 and published on his Facebook page today, stated that “since October 1 I have been held as a captive of Vladimir Putin and his local Georgian crony oligarch [Bidzina] Ivanishvili (Georgian Dream founder – editor) in what the Amnesty International qualified as “not just selective justice but apparent political revenge”, and by the Ombudsman of Ukraine as “a clear-cut act of torture.”

Noting that he has been hunger strike for 46 days “protesting the denial of my basic rights,” the former President asserted that “despite of my worsening health condition the government continues to refuse my transfer to a civilian clinic contrary to the recommendations by the Public Defender of Georgia and medical doctors.”

He also underlined that as of yesterday, he was denied twice the right to attend his own trial hearing in the courtroom, as well as the authorities preventing European lawmekers to meet him in the prison hospital.

Saakashvili has been convicted in absentia by all three instances of Georgian courts for two crimes: he was sentenced to three years in prison for pardoning the former police officials, who were serving time in the high-profile murder case of Sandro Girgvliani. He was also sentenced to six years for organizing an attack on opposition MP Valeri Gelashvili in 2005. Saakashvili has to serve six years behind bars, based on his current convictions.

In two other ongoing cases in court, one concerns embezzlement and another one exceeding official authority in disbanding the November 2007 anti-government protests and related events. Saakashvili denies the charges as politically motivated. In the newest, fifth case, he was charged for illegal border crossing upon returning to Georgia. First proceeding before the court in the latter case was held today.

Saakashvili was transferred to Gldani prison hospital on November 8 agaist his will. On November 11, the Penitentiary Service aired two video footages showing the ex-President rejecting the transfer, demanding return to Rustavi #12 prison and prison employees dragging him forcibly to the prison hospital. Saakashvili, his family, doctor, lawyers and Public Defender are demanding his treatment in a civilian clinic, citing health and psychological risks for the ex-President in prison hospital.

The former President said he would call of his hunger strike if treated in civilian clinic in post-hunger-striking perdiod, a demand refused by his arch-rival Georgian Dream authorities, citing, among others, the risks of Saakashvili supporters storming civilian clinic to release the ex-President.


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