Times of Middle East

Georgia’s ex-leader Saakashvili goes on trial after starvation strike

The trial of former President Mikheil Saakashvili resumes amid a potential six-year jail time period for abuse of workplace.

Georgian police have arrested dozens of opposition supporters who rallied outdoors the courtroom the place ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili confronted trial on abuse of workplace prices which he has denounced as politically motivated.

It was Saakashvili’s first courtroom look for the reason that Caucasus nation’s high opposition chief was arrested on October 1 shortly after his return from exile. Georgia’s president throughout 2004-13, Saakashvili had refused meals for 50 days to protest his prosecution.

On Monday, Saakashvili was seen sitting in a glass field within the courtroom, in keeping with a brief cell phone video broadcast by impartial Pirveli TV station, as greater than 1,000 supporters rallied outdoors the courtroom, waving Georgian and European Union flags and chanting his title.

“I do not recognise the Prosecutor’s Office and the Georgian judiciary, I am not here to be part of a pre-written comedy,” Saakashvili mentioned earlier than the trial started, in keeping with Georgia’s IPN information company.

Police arrested a number of dozen demonstrators after they blocked visitors at a close-by avenue, pro-opposition Mtavari TV mentioned.

Saakashvili sits inside a defendant’s dock throughout a courtroom listening to in Tbilisi [Irakli Gedenidze/Pool/Reuters]

Saakashvili referred to as off the starvation strike when he was moved to a army hospital on November 20 after docs warned he might quickly die.

The Georgian authorities initially banned him from attending the trial, however later reversed the choice after the US Department of State demanded Saakashvili’s proper to a good trial be revered.

“I am not afraid of appearing before a just court and to defend my truth before the Georgian people,” Saakashvili mentioned on Facebook final week, however added that he believed there was “zero chance” that he’ll see justice “in this court”.

In 2018, Saakashvili was sentenced in absentia to 6 years in jail on two counts of abuse of workplace and is going through two extra trials on comparable prices.

He has insisted all the fees in opposition to him are politically motivated.

Monday’s trial issues Saakashvili’s alleged function in a violent police crackdown on an opposition protest in 2007.

People collect outdoors a courtroom constructing earlier than Monday’s listening to [Irakli Gedenidze/Reuters]

Saakashvili on the time admitted that police used extreme drive in opposition to protesters, resigned and referred to as snap presidential polls, which he subsequently gained.

His lawyer Dito Sadzaglishvili advised the AFP information company that Saakashvili “had no role whatsoever in ordering and planning the police operation”.

“Prosecutors have failed to present any evidence of Saakashvili’s wrongdoing.”

‘An extraordinary tale’

Al Jazeera’s Robin Forestier-Walker, reporting from Tbilisi, mentioned the background of the trial was “really quite an extraordinary tale”.

“Mikheil Saakashvili was in exile for eight years, having left the country after he handed over the reins of power to the current administration. They then went after him and charged him with all of these charges while he was in exile,” he mentioned.

“But suddenly he turned up in Georgia, smuggled himself into the country on the eve of local elections on October 1. He was promptly arrested and then for the past six weeks went on hunger strike. It was a huge controversy on how to treat Mikheil Saakashvili.”

Forestier-Walker added that an “independent panel of doctors said he had to be moved to a hospital. He was getting sicker and sicker because of his hunger strike. Finally, the government relented after the European Court of Human Rights intervened.”

“He is now being treated in a military hospital, he ended his hunger strike and here we are today finally with him making an appearance in court,” he concluded.

Amnesty International has condemned Saakashvili’s remedy and branded it “not just selective justice but apparent political revenge”.

Critics have accused the Georgian authorities of utilizing prison prosecutions to punish political opponents and journalists.


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