Georgian Justice Minister Rati Bregadze on Monday said authorities were “doing their utmost” to ensure the health of the imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili in detention.
Bregadze was responding to a recent report by a domestic rehabilitation centre over Saakashvili’s health that pointed to “very serious complications” in his condition, and said a part of the domestic opposition was using the topic of the former President’s health “for its own political interest” “since the day of his arrest” in October 2021.
The Justice Minister alleged “certain opposition politicians” had encouraged Saakashvili not to end his hunger strike - which he launched shortly after his detention - as doing so would “kill him politically”.
To put it mildly, such calls [towards a person on hunger strike] were immoral and unacceptable”, Bregadze said.
He also stressed the former official’s rights had been “fully protected” in detention facilities, from the Rustavi No.12 prison - where Saakashvili was initially placed - to the hospital of the Gldani No.18 prison - where he was moved in early November last year - as well as the Gori Military Hospital - where he was transferred in late November - and finally at the Vivamedi civilian clinic, where he has been receiving treatment since May 12.
Saakashvili chaired the Executive Committees of the Ukrainian National Reforms Council before his arrest in Tbilisi last year. Photo: IPN.
Bregadze also said Saakashvili had refused to follow doctors’ instructions while in the Rustavi prison after his return from the Gori Military Hospital in late December, and had been subsequently transferred to the Vivamedi clinic “to prevent any complications in his health”.
It is better for doctors to speak about Saakashvili’s health. I can only say that the state is doing everything to ensure his health and he has received all necessary services while in custody. Of course, a part of the domestic opposition is trying to use Saakashvili’s topic for its political agenda”, said the Minister.
Lawyers of Saakashvili on Thursday appealed to Tbilisi City Court for granting his release on medical grounds, citing a new report by Empathy centre - a domestic non-governmental organisation monitoring the former President’s health - which pointed to potential “coma and death” for Saakashvili in detention.
Saakashvili, a citizen of Ukraine, was arrested in Tbilisi in October 2021 on his clandestine return to Georgia ahead of municipal elections.
The former president is serving a six-year term for abuse of power in two separate cases stemming back to his time in office, while three other cases are pending.