Independent experts may check ex-Pres Saakashvili’s health to “remove all questions” - Justice Minister

Georgian Justice Minister Rati Bregadze on Monday said authorities had “done their utmost” to protect the rights of the imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili. Photo: Ministry of Justice press office, 29 Aug 2022 - 18:29, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Justice Minister Rati Bregadze said on Monday the Government may invite independent medical experts to check the health of the jailed former President Mikheil Saakashvili, in a bid to “remove all questions” around the matter amid claims by Saakashvili’s attorneys and family that the former President is in “urgent need” of “proper treatment” abroad.

In his comments with journalists following the weekly Government meeting, Bregadze stressed “if the authorities make such a decision, the public will be definitely notified”, adding that conclusions made by independent experts were expected to “once again make it clear what is going on with regard to the individual’s [Saakashvili’s] health”.

The Government is interested in the condition of any inmate. That is why, along with the [treatment of Saakashvili at] Vivamedi civilian clinic [...] independent medical experts can be involved”, Bregadze said. 

In further details, the Minister said the Special Penitentiary Service of Georgia “has been doing its utmost to ensure Saakashvili’s right to health and the agency will proceed with the duty”, with Empathy, a domestic non-governmental human rights organisation, also involved to monitor the former President’s health.

"If the imprisoned former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili decides to withdraw from politics, the move will in no way lead to his release from prison", Mikheil Sarjveladze, an MP from the ruling Georgian Dream party, said earlier this month. Photo: Nino Alavidze/

In response to Saakashvili’s possible transfer abroad for treatment, Bregadze said “there is no conclusion pointing at the need so far”, adding the court and not the Justice Ministry was authorised to make decisions on postponement of, or exemption from, the ongoing sentence of the politician. 

Focusing on Saakashvili’s “poor health”, his lawyers said last month the former President could withdraw from politics and be allowed to go abroad for treatment in case of doing so, while authorities dismissed reports on the possible release. 

Arrested in Tbilisi on his clandestine return to the country ahead of October 2021 municipal elections, Saakashvili has claimed his 49-day hunger strike and “improper treatment while in custody” have “seriously deteriorated” his health.

Opposing the allegations, Georgian Dream authorities have maintained the rights of the former President have been “fully protected”, including in his transfer for treatment to Gori Military Hospital in November and then to Vivamedi clinic in May. 

Facing several charges, Saakasvili is currently serving a six-year prison term after he was sentenced in absentia in 2018 on two separate charges of abuse of power.