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Jailed Ex-Georgian President Consents To Medical Help During Hunger Strike But Says He's 'Ready To Die'


Georgiam ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili (file photo)
Georgiam ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili (file photo)

TBILISI -- Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has been on a hunger strike in prison for nearly three weeks, has consented to medical intervention while vowing to continue his protest.

Saakashvili's lawyer, Dito Sadzaglishvili, read out a letter from his client to reporters on October 20, in which Saakashvili said he was "ready to die" for his cause.

"But I want to preserve my consciousness and ability to work to the end, and therefore I agree to allow medical intervention by physicians which will help me keep my sanity and at least, in a limited way, participate in ongoing developments," the letter said.

A day earlier, a group of doctors recommended that prison administrators transfer Saakashvili to a hospital for observation after visiting him.

Saakashvili was arrested on October 1 hours after he announced he had returned to Georgia following an eight-year absence. He immediately went on a hunger strike, while his arrest triggered a protest by tens of thousands of his supporters in Tbilisi last week.

The 53-year-old has said his arrest for what Georgian law enforcement agencies called illegally crossing the border was politically motivated.

Saakashvili’s detention in a prison in Rustavi has deepened a protracted political crisis in Georgia. Dozens of European lawmakers and other current and former politicians have called for his release.

Saakashvili served as the South Caucasus country's president from 2004 to 2013.

He was sentenced in 2018 in absentia to a total of nine years in prison after being convicted of abuse of power in two separate cases. The ex-president has rejected all charges as politically motivated.

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