Minister of Justice Insists on Saakashvili “Self-Harm” as EU Parliament Plans Urgent Debate

In a special briefing late on February 1, Minister of Justice Rati Bregadze said “inmate Mikheil Saakashvili” was taking “steps towards self-harm.” He brushed aside the criticism over the former president’s condition as “destructive actions of the radical opposition to ensure their political viability.” In the meantime, political groupings at the European Parliament have endorsed an urgent debate to discuss Saakashvili’s health.

Minister of Justice Statement

Justice Minister Bregadze decried an “active campaign” for moving Saakashvili into intensive care, which, according to the Minister, is based on “creating a false public perception concerning his state of health, and artificial pumping of the emotions and purposeful portrayal of the Ministries legitimate actions as illegitimate.”

Bregadze underlined that the “physiological parameters of the inmate are within norm”, his “swallowing function is not impaired,” and thus “no impediments to nutrition exist.” He also said the patient was offered parenteral nutrition, which he refused. He added that as soon as the information spread regarding the alleged poisoning of Saakashvili, “we offered him toxicology expertise, which he refused.”

According to the Minister, Saakashvili “is not interested in determining the truth” and is instead “taking steps to self-harm,” which are instigated by the “interested parties” – his political supporters and the defense team.

The Minister of Justice, Special Penitentiary Service, the medical facility, and doctors “can not be held responsible for self-harm by the inmate, including his refusal to follow medical prescriptions,” Bregadze said.

He decried the “political campaign to damage the image of the state,” which is aimed “at specific inmate evading prison through self-harm.” He pledged not to “react leniently since this constitutes a dangerous precedent that may encourage other inmates.”

Bregadze concluded, “in the best interests of the inmate’s health, we call on all interested parties to immediately stop supporting Saakashvili’s self-harm and stop politicizing the issue of execution of his sentence.”

International Outcry

The Minister’s statement came as the words of outcry started trickling in after today’s live-link testimony of Saakashvili at the Court hearing, which is to rule on the request for a deferred sentence or transfer to the third country for treatment. Saakashvili appeared emaciated and demonstrated his protruding ribs as proof of acute weight loss, which medical professionals have confirmed. Saakashvili’s defense team filed the motion for deferral or transfer on December 1, and the court sessions have been ongoing since.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky held up the printouts depicting Saakashvili’s condition before launching his official meeting with the Austrian president earlier today, on February 1. Saakashvili has Ukrainian citizenship.

“I would like the press to see what is happening: public torture of a citizen of Ukraine. I am not discussing the issue of why the former President of Georgia was arrested and what consequences Georgia’s politics and democracy have. This is their internal issue. I’m talking about the arrest of a citizen of Ukraine, Mikheil Saakashvili, who is publicly tortured daily. And I think their goal is to kill him,” Zelensky said.

MEP Anna Fotyga posted the handwritten messages for help she received from Saakashvili, which she described as “terrifying.”

MEP Fotyga indicated that the EU Parliament plans an urgent debate regarding Saakashvili’s state of health. The European People’s Party’s support for an urgent debate was confirmed by MEP Miriam Lexmann, who called on the authorities to “stop hazarding with ex-President Saakshvili’s life.”

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