PM Garibashvili urges ex-President to cooperate with investigation

Garibashvili said he hoped Saakashvili would change his mind. Photo by PM's Press office., 28 Mar 2014 - 21:29, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili is calling on former president Mikheil Saakashvili to abide by the country’s rule of law and respond to his summons to be questioning as a witness by authorities investigating corruption and instances of abuse of power during his tenure.

"I urge Mr Saakashvili to reconsider his decision to ignore the Chief Prosecutor’s reasonable, non-intrusive requests and to offer his cooperation in these investigations,” PM Garibashvili said.

His comments came following the former President’s renewed refusal to provide witness testimony, which the Prosecutor’s Office considers central to a number of ongoing investigations.

The Prosecutor offered to conduct the interview via Skype when Saakashvili failed to respond to a legal summons to present evidence in person. Both rebuffs came via media statements broadcast on Georgian Rustavi 2 TV.

Garibashvili said he hoped Saakashvili would change his mind. He said leaders, past and present, had a democratic responsibility to the people and the ex-president should know that he "will have to answer these questions sooner or later”.

The former president’s attempts to "avoid tough questions” only intensified concerns in Georgia and abroad, said the PM.

"The Prosecutor’s Office acted correctly and within legal boundaries,” he added.

"Saakashvili ignored one of the most important state institutions and rejected an alternative form of questioning,” Garibashvili stated.

He pointed out investigations the former President was being asked to contribute to were of the highest public interest. During the years being investigated, "300,000 people were sentenced, thousands had their businesses and homes taken away, many fell victim to torture, and numerous murders were committed,” Garibashvili said.