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Independent Medics Say Georgian Ex-President's Health Compromised By 'Torture' In Prison

Georgian ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili delivers a speech in the defendant's dock during a court hearing in Tbilisi on December 2.

TBILISI -- An independent group of doctors has examined jailed former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and determined that his health has been seriously compromised as a result of "torture" and mistreatment he had allegedly experienced since his arrest in early October.

The doctors reported on December 18 that Saakashvili, 53, had developed several neurological conditions "as a result of torture, ill-treatment, inadequate medical care, and a prolonged hunger strike."

One member of the group, psychiatrist Mariam Jishkariani, told the AFP news agency that the health problems were the result of "Saakashvili's psychological torture in prison, which could lead to his incapacitation if he is not given proper medical care."

She added that he had been wrongly given unspecified "antipsychotic drugs," which amounted to "pharmacological torture."

The examination by a group of seven physicians was organized by the nongovernmental Empathy Center.

Saakashvili himself has said he was subjected to death threats, sleep deprivation, and physical abuse while in custody.

Last week, the Georgian State Inspectorate announced it had opened an investigation into Saakashvili's allegations.

The NGO Amnesty International has said Saakashvili’s treatment was "not just selective justice, but apparent political revenge," while the U.S. State Department has called on the Georgian government to "treat Saakashvili fairly and with dignity."

Saakashvili served as Georgia's president from 2004 to 2013. He was arrested shortly after returning to Georgia from self-imposed exile in Ukraine.

He conducted a 50-day hunger strike to protest his convictions on charges of abuse of office, which he says were politically motivated.

His arrest, coming amid a political crisis stemming from disputed parliamentary elections in 2020, spurred the largest anti-government protests in Georgia in a decade.

With reporting by AFP