Georgia has grounds to reject Ukraine’s motion on ex-pres. Saakashvili’s transfer - justice minister

Georgian justice minister Rati Bregadze on Thursday said that “everything is being done by the state” to ensure Mikheil Saakashvili’s well-being. Photo: justice ministry press office, 13 Oct 2022 - 11:39, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian justice minister Rati Bregadze on Thursday said the country’s authorities had “legal grounds” to reject Ukraine's potential motion requesting a transfer of Georgia’s convicted former president Mikheil Saakashvili to the country.

Speaking to Imedi TV, the minister said that no official request had been submitted from Kyiv on the matter so far, but cited domestic laws and international practice preventing a transfer of individuals if they were convicted or faced charges. 

Saakashvili has been convicted in two separate cases in Georgia, and trials are ongoing in the other three cases. Therefore, if Ukraine makes an official request, there are clear grounds to reject it”, Bregadze said, adding the former president was expected to testify as part of the investigations involving him.

In comments about claims by Saakashvili’s lawyers and family on his “critical condition”, Bregadze said “everything is being done by the state” to ensure his well-being, noting “they [Saakashvili and his entourage] have started targeted attacks on the medical personnel” of the Vivamedi clinic in Tbilisi where the former president has been undergoing treatment since May. 

Saakashvili is not in an intensive care or critical care unit - he is undergoing treatment in a therapeutic unit of the clinic. We recently observed targeted attacks on the medical personnel, which is completely unacceptable”, he stressed.

Saakashvili, who currently holds Ukrainian citizenship and took a public post in Ukraine before being arrested in Tbilisi last October, claims that he needs treatment abroad. Photo: IPN. 

I think any doctor who takes care of their patient's health should be appreciated, and in no case should they be insulted", the minister said, noting both experts invited by a domestic organisation and an American doctor hired by Saakashvili’s family had been allowed to see him. 

In response to the lawyers’ recent statements on the possibility of postponement of Saakashvili’s sentence due to his “poor health”, Bregadze said a decision on the issue could be made by a court alone if the defendant presented evidence backing the request. 

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

Opposing the claims, 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. A citizen of Ukraine, Saakashvili served on a number of government positions in the country before his return to Georgia.