New Public Defender visits ex-Pres. Saakashvili, other inmates in Tbilisi clinic

Levan Ioseliani was elected as the new Public Defender by the Parliament earlier this month. Photo: Levan Ioseliani’s Facebook, 20 Mar 2023 - 13:04, Tbilisi,Georgia

Levan Ioseliani, the newly appointed Public Defender of Georgia, on Sunday visited the imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili and 13 other inmates currently undergoing treatment at the Vivamedi civilian clinic in Tbilisi. 

In his social media post, Ioseliani said he would refrain from commenting on the former official’s condition due to being “not a professional” in the field, but stressed he would maintain “all existing mechanisms” in his office, including a medical council, to monitor Saakashvili’s health. 

The Public Defender said he had also confirmed the stance during “almost an hour-long” conversation with the former President. 

He also added monitoring conditions of other inmates at the clinic was also important due to their “specific needs”, pledging his office would look into their necessities “more closely”. 

A former opposition politician Ioseliani was elected as the country’s new Ombudsperson on March 7, shortly after the Tbilisi Court of Appeals on March 2 upheld the verdict of the Tbilisi City Court that denied Saakashvili release or postponement of the rest of his sentence on health grounds. 

The ruling upheld the City Court’s decision in February that rejected claims of the former President’s legal team on his alleged need for urgent treatment abroad due to multiple and serious health problems.

Georgian Government members and penitentiary authorities have been challenging the claims by saying Saakashvili has been engaged in “self-harm” through disobeying doctors, in a bid to facilitate his “illegal release” from detention.

Saakashvili, who has Ukrainian citizenship and held a public post in the country, was arrested on return to Georgia in October 2021 and is serving a six-year term for abuse of power in a case he had been convicted on. He has been undergoing treatment at the clinic in Tbilisi since May 2022, with three other cases against him pending.