Vice PM urges imprisoned ex-Pres. Saakashvili to “better cooperate” with medical staff

Tsulukiani also said the question on the fate of the sentence should not be posed to Government officials. Photo: Government Administration, 12 Dec 2022 - 12:48, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s Vice Prime Minister Thea Tsulukiani on Sunday urged the imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili to “better cooperate” with medical professionals working to ensure his well-being, adding a change in attitude would be “important for his own health”.

In her remarks over the matter, Tsulukiani noted the prerogative of the court to make a decision on whether Saakashvili would be granted release, or postponement of sentence, on medical grounds in an upcoming hearing on Wednesday. 

The hearing at Tbilisi City Court was originally scheduled for Friday, but was postponed to Wednesday due to “technical problems” in ensuring his participation via video link. 

Let us all leave the decision to the court, since the hearing is scheduled and the motion is set before the judge. All kinds of preliminary wishes, dreams, calls disturb the tranquillity of the court”, Tsulukiani said.

“The only thing I would like is for the inmate [Saakashvili] to resume cooperation and to cooperate even better with the medical staff, because it is important for his health”, she continued.

Tsulukiani also said the question on the fate of the sentence should not be posed to Government officials.

“The Government and its members do not have any leverage for this, the Parliament and its members do not have any leverage for this. This leverage may be available to the judge if he so decides”, she noted. 

There is a pardon mechanism that belongs to the President and that is it. If I have no leverage, that means I am not responsible. I am responsible for providing medical services as a government, which is being done”, Tsulukiani said.

The Vice PM also added the Government had “clear conscience” before Saakashvili, adding “however, we do not have the leverage to release him”.

A recent health report by Empathy, a Georgian-based rehabilitation centre, into Saakashvili’s health condition pointed to more than 20 health issues and raised the potential of “coma and death”. It was cited by the former President’s lawyers in their appeal to the court on December 1 to either release Saakashvili or postpone the rest of his sentence. 

The Georgian Justice Minister Rati Bregadze on Tuesday said the former official was engaged in “self-harm” and expressed his “suspicion” that Saakashvili and his “close entourage” may “not be interested in [actual] recovery [of his health condition]”. 

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.