On January 17, the Tbilisi City Court held another hearing to discuss whether to suspend or defer former president Mikheil Saakashvili’s sentence due to his grave health condition. Dr. James Cobey, an orthopedic surgeon from the United States, and Mariam Jishkariani, the head of the Tbilisi-based Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture – Empathy, both testified before the court during the hearing session.
Due to his diagnoses, which include arthritis in the left hip joint, arthritis in the left shoulder, and damage of the intervertebral disc in the neck area, Dr. Cobey refers to Saakashvili as a “seriously ill” patient. Dr. Cobey noted that unless multiple surgeries are performed, Saakashvili “will not be able to walk.”
Elaborating on the likely causes of Saakashvili’s injuries, the American physician made reference to the incident when Saakashvili was transported from the Rustavi penitentiary facility to the prison hospital, and he concluded that Saakashvili’s neck injury was likely caused by the fact that he was carried for a considerable distance using his neck and shoulders, which later led to the development of arthritis.
On her part, Mariam Jishkarian stated that leaving Saakashvili in the prison system is considered the ill-treatment of the prisoner and “a crime” in light of the dementia diagnosis and Saakashvili’s neurological condition. She further stated that, by the relevant order of Georgia’s Minister of Health, the diagnosis of dementia serves as the legal justification for the prisoner’s release from custody.
The Special Penitentiary Service’s lawyer, Gela Nikolaishvili, cited the American doctor Cobey as saying that it is impossible to pinpoint the precise circumstances in which Mikheil Saakashvili sustained the abovementioned injuries. Nikolaishvili also said the doctor cannot determine precisely the period when Saakashvili’s injuries occurred.
The case hearing will continue on January 20.
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