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Georgian Ex-President Returned To Prison, Prompting Concern From His Lawyers


Defense lawyer Nika Gvaramia (file photo)
Defense lawyer Nika Gvaramia (file photo)

TBILISI -- Lawyers for former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili have expressed concerns about his health following his transfer overnight from a military hospital in Gori to a prison in Rustavi.

"I do not know how extreme the situation is following his transportation," defense lawyer Nika Gvaramia told journalists on December 30. "I have to see if the prisoner is alive."

Gvaramia claimed Saakashvili had been "abducted" and that his defense team and relatives had no information about his condition.

Defense lawyers were hoping to meet with Saakashvili at Rustavi prison No. 12 on December 30.

Georgia's prison service on December 30 confirmed that "convict Mikheil Saakashvili is in prison No. 12."

A parliament deputy from the ruling Georgian Dream party, David Sergeyenko, told journalists that Saakashvili had been released from the hospital after doctors determined his health had "stabilized."

Saakashvili had been scheduled to be transferred on December 27, but that move was postponed after he reportedly fainted upon being told of the order. A representative of Georgian rights ombudsman Nino Lomdzharia visited Saakashvili in the Gori hospital on December 28.

Saakashvili, 54, has been in custody since October 1, when he was detained shortly after returning to Georgia from self-imposed exile. He is serving a six-year sentence after being convicted in absentia of abuse of office.

He was transferred to the Gori Military Hospital on November 19 after a 50-day hunger strike to protest his convictions, saying they were politically motivated.

He and his supporters have complained that he has been mistreated and "tortured" while in custody.

On December 18, an independent medical team examined him and ruled that his health had been seriously compromised "as a result of torture, ill-treatment, inadequate medical care, and a prolonged hunger strike."

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry on December 28 called on the Georgian authorities to treat Saakashvili, who has Ukrainian citizenship, "with respect," adding that he needs additional medical treatment.

Saakashvili served as Georgia’s president from 2004 until 2013.

With reporting by AFP

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