TV Pirveli, government critical TV channel aired on November 27 an interview with Liana Orkodashvili, one of three justices of the so-called November 7, 2007 case, in which ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili is accused of exceeding authority in a series of events, including the dispersal of the 2007 anti-government protests and a raid on and “seizure” of Imedi TV station, then the opposition channel.
The interview is aired two days before the trial into the case, slated for later today. Saakashvili was previously not allowed by the Penitentiary Service to attend the hearing on November 10, citing health risks of then hunger-striking Saakashvili and possible conspiracy by his supporters to obstruct the convoy.
In the interview, Justice Orkodashvili told TV Pirveli that the panel of judges will not hold hearings if Saakashvili is denied attendance the trial on November 29.
“It is in our interest, speaking in both in human and legal ways, for every defendant to take part in his trial hearings,” said Justice Orkodashvili, adding that it is now up to the doctors and the ex-President himself to decide on the attendance judging from his health condition. Saakashvili is undergoing post-hunger-strike treatment in Gori Military Hospital since November 19.
Noting that the Penitentiary that barred Saakashvili from attending his trial operates under the Justice Ministry, not the courts, Orkodashvili said judges were shown the document citing his health risks as the reason behind the transfer refusal. “We are not doctors — if this person got ill on the road, or during trial, what should we have done then?”
Earlier in November the Court said Saakashvili’s absence in the courtroom on November 7 case did not impede the trial, as it did not examine the evidence, but only discussed his pre-trial detention.
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The Justice also said she had to visit doctor after the court case on November 10 to relieve nervousness.
Asked about footage released by the Penitentiary that show ex-President forcefully dragged into Gldani prison hospital on November 8, the Justice responded the videos were “very hard to watch.” “Both as human being and justice I felt it very much.”
“Treatment even for a murderer should follow [legal] frames,” Justice Orkodashvili added.
Recalling the past, Orkodashvili also remembered that some two decades ago, Saakashvili, who served as Justice Minister in 2000-2001, offered her advancement as chief district court justice in one of Tbilisi districts. But she said she declined, preferring justice career over serving an administrative position.
Justice Orkodashvili also noted that currently there is a less of a pressure on judges. She said during the final years of Saakashvili’s United National Movement party administration in 2003-2012 the authorities attempted to influence the courts.
Along with Orkodashvili, the panel of justices into the November 7, 2007 case will be composed of Justice Maia Kokiashvili and Justice Nino Eleishvili.