Kakha Kaladze, the mayor of Tbilisi and the secretary general of the ruling Georgian Dream party, on Tuesday said a decision on whether to offer a pardon to the imprisoned former president Mikheil Saakashvili was for the current president Salome Zourabichvili to make, but added his position was that “everyone must answer for crimes committed”.
In his remarks over the controversy around the president - who, along with his lawyers and a part of the domestic opposition, has claimed a significant deterioration of his health in detention and need for a transfer abroad for treatment - Kaladze said “relevant agencies” were “doing everything to ensure the health and safety” of all prisoners including the former official, a task he called “very important”.
“Pardoning [Saakashvili] is up to the president. The president has to make the decision, but I repeat, a person who is accused and has committed a specific crime in relation to specific cases, my position is that everyone should be held accountable”, the GD official said.
When you are in politics and you are a politician and especially the first person of the country, you have a very big responsibility, and it is very sad what was happening in the country regarding the freedom of expression and speech, what was the attitude towards the business sector, towards people with different opinions [during Saakashvili’s term in office]. It was very serious and I think that everyone who committed a crime in this direction should be held accountable”, Kaladze continued.
Saakashvili was arrested in Tbilisi in October 2021 after his clandestine return to Georgia. Currently he is serving a six-year term for two separate abuse of power cases while in office, with three other cases involving his term pending.
His lawyers and family members have claimed the former president is in “urgent need” of treatment abroad, adding local professionals had been “unable” to make “accurate diagnosis and ensure relevant treatment” for months.