Cabinet finds Saakashvili’s video conference refusal “suspicious”

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia will wait seven days before announcing what it will do next., 28 Mar 2014 - 14:28, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili’s refusal to be questioned via video conference has been assessed as "wrong” and "incomprehensible” by the country’s Cabinet members.

"I believe if a person is capable to help an investigation they should do it. This is a civic duty,” Georgia’s Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze said.

"So for me, such a reaction to being questioned as a witness is incomprehensible.”

Saakashvili was summoned to appear at the Chief Prosecutor’s Office on March 27 to be questioned on several high-profile cases but he did not show up. The Office then offered him the possibility of testifying via video conference from abroad, which he also denied.

Georgia’s State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Alexi Petriashvili said Saakashvili’s decision deepened doubts that the ex-President did not have answers to the Prosecutors’ possible questions.

"The international community should see that [by his refusal to be questioned via Skype] Saakashvili ignored even the mechanisms that meet international standards,” Petriashvili said.

Meanwhile, the ex-President’s action was praised by members of the former ruling party United National Movement (UNM).

Parliamentary minority member Sergo Ratiani said Saakashvili should not cooperate with the investigation as the current Government tried to discredit everything the Saakashvili-led government did during its nine years in power.

UNM member Zurab Japaridze said even if the Government named Saakashvili on a wanted list, this would only damage the country’s reputation, not the ex-President’s reputation.

Saakashvili was given a week to decide his next steps. The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia will wait seven days before announcing what it will do next.