Accessibility links

Breaking News

Georgian Ex-President Saakashvili's Trial Adjourned For Three Weeks


Georgian Police Clash With Opposition Protesters As Saakashvili Goes On Trial
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:00:54 0:00

Georgian Police Clash With Opposition Protesters As Saakashvili Goes On Trial

TBILISI -- Mikheil Saakashvili has told a court in Tbilisi he was "tortured" during his pretrial detention before the judge adjourned the proceedings until December 23 amid scuffles outside the court between police and the former president's supporters.

Saakashvili was arrested on October 1, when he returned to the country after an eight-year absence to rally the opposition ahead of local elections.

The November 29 hearings in Tbilisi on a new case against the ex-president for the violent dispersal of a 2007 protest marked Saakashvili's first public appearance since his arrest.

In January 2018, he was convicted in absentia in Georgia of abuse of office and sentenced to three years in prison.

In June 2018, he was again convicted in absentia of abuse of office and sentenced to six years in prison. Saakashvili and his supporters say all his prosecutions were politically motivated.

Saakashvili, who was president from 2004 until 2013, is the founder of the main opposition United National Movement (ENM) party.

Addressing the judges from a glass box in the courtroom, he refused to recognize the authority of the prosecutor's office.

"The whole world is amazed that I am addressing you through this glass wall instead of walking freely in the country I have built," he said.

"Everyone knows I must not be in jail because all the charges against me are trumped-up and politically motivated."

Saakashvili at one point switched to English, saying he was addressing "Georgia's international partners," and accused the authorities of torture.

"I was tortured, I was treated inhumanely, beaten up, and humiliated" in custody, he said.

Saakashvili's lawyer, Beka Basilaia, later said the judge had set December 23 as the date for the next hearing.

The former president went on a seven-week hunger strike following his arrest, ending it on November 19 after the authorities agreed to transfer him from a prison clinic to a military hospital. His lawyers and doctors said it caused him neurological damage.

The only media outlet allowed into the hearing was the state broadcaster's First Channel.

RFE/RL correspondents at the courthouse reported minor clashes between security forces and Saakashvili supporters, with police allegedly spraying pepper gas into the crowd.

Earlier this month, Saakashvili was moved from a prison in the city of Rustavi to the Gldani prison clinic, where he claimed he was verbally and physically abused by guards.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.