Justice Minister: Empathy Center’s Conclusions Unreliable
Georgian Justice Minister Rati Bregadze said at a press conference on January 26, citing the conclusion of the Samkharauli Forensic Bureau, that the psychiatric, gastroenterological and neurological diagnoses made by Empathy, the Tbilisi-based Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture, in respect of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili “are not reliable and authentic.”
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Minister Bregadze noted that on December 8, 2022, the Special Penitentiary Service applied to the Forensic Bureau to verify the reliability and authenticity of Empathy’s conclusions and received a relevant conclusion on January 26, 2023. “This conclusion will be submitted to the court and the subsequent consideration will continue in court,” the minister added.
Mariam Jishkariani, director of Empathy, called the minister’s remarks “pressure on expertise and attempts to damage reputation.” She also noted that the Samkharauli Forensic Bureau only evaluated Empathy’s conclusion and did not examine Saakashvili’s condition. “We could not understand how they managed to evaluate the state of health of a living man [only] through documents,” she said.
Jishkariani clarified that the neurological and gastroenterological diagnoses made by Empathy are in full compliance with the diagnoses made by the Justice Ministry, Vivamedi clinic and Gori hospital.
“So, all the diagnoses made by Vivamedi clinic regarding Saakashvili’s neurological or gastroenterological condition seem to be wrong,” Jishkariani stressed.
Saakashvili’s defense lawyers petitioned the Tbilisi City Court to either release Saakashvili or postpone his sentence based on Empathy’s conclusion. The court began deliberations in late December, and since then several hearings have been held, in which local and foreign experts have been questioned.
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