Parliament official on fmr. president Saakashvili: “psychological intolerance” to detention no reason for release

Sarjveladze responded by noting merely making the number of diagnoses public without their specifics did not qualify Saakashvili for a release. Photo: Parliament of Georgia, 01 Dec 2022 - 13:32, Tbilisi,Georgia

Mikheil Sarjveladze, the chair of the Georgian parliament's committee on human rights, on Monday said “psychological intolerance” to detention environment was “not a reason” for granting individuals release from prison, pointing out the information made public on diagnoses and health condition of the imprisoned former president Mikheil Saakashvili was “not enough” to warrant his transfer abroad for treatment.

Sarjveladze made the comment after the Georgian-based rehabilitation centre Empathy presented a new medical report on Saakashvili’s health condition on Thursday, calling his continued imprisonment “incompatible” with his medical condition, which it said had produced about 10 diagnoses by health professionals.

Sarjveladze responded by noting merely making the number of diagnoses public without their specifics did not qualify Saakashvili for a release.

A request has been made to transfer [Saakashvili] abroad, but is it enough to say that 10 diagnoses have been made, or that the health condition is serious? I think this is not enough. During this time, it has become clear to everyone that it is necessary to say what the diagnosis is [specifically], and it must be substantiated that there is no possibility of treating this diagnosis in Georgia”, Sarjveladze said.

The parliament official also noted domestic health professionals and means also enabled conducting a toxicological examination on Saakashvili in Georgia.

His own experts, who support him, say that he has a psychological problem of ‘intolerance to cell’. But prisoners are not released in any [civilised society] because of this [condition]. People cannot be released from [detention] due to psychological intolerance”, he concluded.

Georgian justice minister Rati Bregadze on Tuesday said the government was offering the imprisoned former president Mikheil Saakashvili to bring “any doctor from any foreign clinic” and involve them in his treatment in Georgia.

Bregadze said the offer, which comes on the backdrop of calls by Saakashvili’s lawyers and a part of domestic opposition to allow the former official a transfer abroad for treatment, was being made “based on the high responsibility that the government attaches to the life and health of each person”.

Saakashvili was arrested in Tbilisi in October 2021 after his clandestine return to Georgia. He is currently serving a six-year term for two separate abuse of power cases while in office, with three other cases involving his term pending. 

He was transferred from the No. 12 Prison in the city of Rustavi to the civilian clinic Vivamedi in capital Tbilisi in May, following an offer for the transfer from the justice ministry, made after demands on the matter from the former president’s medical team and a part of political opposition.

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.

Responding to the claims, the country’s justice ministry has said “all necessary services” have been ensured for the former president in detention since his arrest and have stressed his potential transfer for treatment abroad could only be ruled by courts.