Georgia’s imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili has lost his appeal for release or postponement of the rest of his sentence on health grounds, with Tbilisi City Court on Monday denying the application in the case that has been surrounded by public debate.
Judge Giorgi Arevadze dismissed the request that had been made by Saakashvili’s legal team and supported by his family and a part of the domestic political opposition, who had claimed the former official was in need of urgent treatment abroad.
They had claimed domestic health professionals had been unable to provide Saakashvili with adequate treatment in detention - the former President has been under supervision at a civilian clinic in Tbilisi - while penitentiary authorities and medical professionals tending to him have alleged Saakashvili was engaged in “self-harm” and disobeying doctors.
The court ruling on the request - made on December 1, based on a medical report on the former official’s health, commissioned by the non-governmental organisation Empathy - involved 15 trials and 24 witnesses.
They included Doctor Shahin Lahan, an American professional who contributed to the report claiming dementia was a “major health issue” for the former official’s condition in detention.
Due to his health circumstances, Saakashvili did not attend the court in person but appeared in video link in some of the sessions.
The ruling can be appealed by the former President’s legal team at Tbilisi Court of Appeal.
Saakashvili was arrested in Tbilisi in October 2021, after his clandestine return to the country where he was wanted for charges related to cases dating back to his time in office.
He is now serving a six-year-sentence for abuse of power on a case dating back to his time in office, on which he had been convicted in absentia in 2018. Three other cases against him are pending.