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Concilium: Saakashvili’s Condition ‘Serious,’ Requires ‘Urgent’ Response

According to the 6 December conclusion of a group of experts created by the Public Defender to monitor the health condition of imprisoned ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, Saakashvili’s health “has sharply deteriorated and is assessed as severe.” They added that to “prevent the expected irreversible deterioration, it is necessary to adopt urgent and fundamental measures.”

According to the doctors, following the last evaluation in April, there is a worsening of Saakashvili’s neurological status, anemia, anorexia, and gastrointestinal developments. They also noted sharp and rapid weight loss, deterioration of muscle mass, as well as cachexia, which is associated with the advanced stages of an illness.

“The patient’s condition is progressively deteriorating,” the experts underscored while pointing out that in line with the current speed of weight loss, a critical body mass index of less than 14 (which corresponds to less than 52 kilograms) will be reached in 2-3 months, after which “irreversible damage to organ systems will begin.”

According to the doctors and on the basis of expert opinion, Saakashvili has undergone all laboratory and relevant avenues for treatment which are available in Georgia with his condition continuing to rapidly deteriorate despite such efforts.

“The current treatment is not effective. The patient cannot be managed proactively and the treatment approaches are limited to responding to various complications,” the doctors underscored.

Remarks by Concilium Doctors

During the press conference where the Concilium presented the report, neurologist Tengiz Tsuladze asserted that when a patient’s condition does not improve as a result of continued treatment, it is at that point that he should be transferred to another multi-specialty clinic abroad, where he can receive the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

“Our colleagues are doing their best, don’t think that they are missing anything, but our country does not have much experience in managing such patients. Such patients are not frequent [in Georgia],” he emphasized.

As for the recent statement made by the Director of Vivamedi Clinic, Zurab Chkhaidze – that Saakashvili is choosing not to eat – Tsuladze noted that the patient does not leave the impression that “he is starving himself or has suicidal tendencies… I think he cannot eat.”

Tsuladze also added that until Chkhaidze’s statement, he had not heard anything from his colleagues at the clinic about Saakashvili “not eating on purpose,” nor had he seen any “such record in the patient’s history.”

Grigol Khurtsidze, a therapist and specialist in internal diseases and hospital medicine, noted that in Saakashvili’s case, all available resources in Georgia have been utilized. “We are dealing with a syndrome that we cannot diagnose here,” he said.

Per Khurtsidze, if Saakashvili continues to lose weight at this rate, his BMI will reach its critical limit in about 2-3 months, after which the body “starts to digest its own organs, and then nothing can reverse that.”

Giorgi Grigolia, an anesthesiologist, underscored that in such a situation when a patient’s health worsens throughout his treatment at a clinic, “perhaps the clinic should make a vocal statement and at least make some decision for itself.”

“I think that everyone there is very well aware that the patient’s condition is getting worse, but I cannot tell you what they are going to do next,” he added.

Regarding Chkhaidze’s statements about the possibility of force-feeding Saakashvili through a tube, Grigolia said that it is out of the question. “When a person is conscious and intentionally does not want to eat, [tube feeding] is prohibited by international norms,” he underlined.

“It is a fact that this person’s condition is getting worse, and it is a fact that there is no strategy or plan that can improve his condition. The conclusion is to change the place of his treatment,” stated cardiologist Giorgi Kacharava, adding that “there is no diagnosis, and that is the problem.”

Public Defender’s Statement

On her part, Public Defender Nino Lomjaria stated that the Concilium’s opinion provides the basis for her to conclude that Saakashvili’s condition is serious and meets, at minimum, the requirement for postponing his sentence under Article 283 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia.

According to Lomjaria, based on whatever materials Saakashvili’s lawyers present to the Court, there may also be grounds for releasing Saakashvili from his sentence.

Lomjaria emphasized that her Office will urge the Court to make a swift decision on the matter in light of Saakashvili’s current state of health.

Statement of Vivamedi Director

Speaking with the media earlier that day, Chkhaidze maintained that while Saakashvili’s condition is noteworthy, the treatment continues, and “the patient is being treated with everything, all the treatments that are used today…”

“But treatment is a complex process, a lot depends on the patient as well. Therefore, regarding nutrition, of course, he should eat well and it should be said that he is not eating well,” he stressed, adding that Saakashvili “takes only the food he wants, at the time he wants, on the days he wants.” “It doesn’t mean that he can’t eat, more likely, that he is not eating,” he added.

Chkhaidze also asserted that if Saakashvili continues to eat selectively, “then we will be forced to use tube feeding.” “If he does not continue to receive food, then this is one of the methods,” he added.

Justice Minister Comments

Late on 6 December, Minister of Justice Rati Bregadze spoke about Saakashvili’s condition while on Imedi TV, stating that Saakashvili’s teammates are trying to “manipulate” his health condition and “politicize” the issue.

On the basis of Chkhaidze’s statements, the Minister also stated that Saakashvili is “acting in self-harm mode” and “does not comply with the course of treatment that is selected directly by the doctors.” “Naturally, that cooperation between the patient and the attending physician is necessary, otherwise what sort of treatment are we even talking about?”

Regarding the possibility of Saakashvili’s sentence being postponed, Minister Bregadze noted that there are “ways prescribed by Georgian legislation” for this and the Judge will make the decision based on relevant evidence.

The Minister also accused the opposition of pressuring the judge on Saakashvili’s case through various media outlets, underscoring that the Judge was told in advance that Saakashvili’s condition is “very serious” and is not being given “an opportunity to work normally.”

“I will emphasize once again – the convicted person is serving his sentence in the institutions on Georgian territory, and no exception that is not provided for by the law will be allowed for anyone,” he said.

The first session of the Court on the issue of deciding whether Saakashvili should be released or his sentence postponed is scheduled for 9 December.

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