Ruling party head accuses ex-Pres. Saakashvili of “talentless simulation” at trial hearing

Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party, on Thursday said the former president Mikheil Saakshvili was “deliberately” harming his health. Photo: Georgian Dream press office, 22 Dec 2022 - 16:42, Tbilisi,Georgia

Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party, on Thursday accused the imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili of “talentless simulation” in his participation in the ongoing trial hearing at Tbilisi City Court on granting release or postponement of the rest of his sentence on medical grounds.

Reacting to Saakashvili’s appearance during his participation in the hearing via a video link from the Vivamedi civilian clinic, where he has been undergoing treatment since May, the MP claimed the former official’s “lost weight” was related to his alleged refusal to follow doctors’ instructions on receiving proper sustenance. 

Today the public witnessed another simulation. It seems simulation also requires talent, and this one was a very talentless simulation. As for his look, Saakashvili eats only what he wants and when he wants, which has caused a loss in his weight”, Kobakhidze said. 

Unlike the previous two postponed hearings, the Special Penitentiary Service on Thursday ensured Saakashvili’s engagement in the trial via the video link. However, his involvement was switched off after he attempted to address the hearing in the Ukrainian language, “as a citizen of the country”. 

The Special Penitentiary Service on Thursday ensured Saakashvili's engagement in a trial hearing via a video link. 

The judge dismissed the motion of Saakashvili’s lawyers to invite an interpreter, saying Saakashvili could speak Georgian and the trial was also being conducted in the language. Their request for allowing the former President to take his shirt off and “show the public his [weakened] body” was also denied.

The lawyers also claimed Saakashvili had become unwell during the hearing, and added he may not be involved after the resumption of the session following a break announced due a technical glitch. 

The hearing follows an appeal by Saakashvili’s lawyers earlier this month for either granting release or postponement of the rest of his sentence due to “complicated health”. The team presented a health report by a domestic rehabilitation centre that had pointed to more than 20 health issues that could allegedly lead to the former official’s death. 

Responding to the claims, Georgian Government officials said Saakashvili was engaged in “self-harm” and “deliberate speculation” to achieve his release. 

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.