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Jailed Former Georgian Prime Minister Transferred To Civilian Clinic Due To Health Issues

Former Georgian Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili (file photo)

TBILISI -- A lawyer for Vano Merabishvili, Georgia's jailed former prime minister and interior minister, says he has been transferred from prison to a civilian clinic due to health problems.

Stefane Tumanishvili said on October 2 that Merabishvili, who was sentenced in 2016 to 61/2 years in prison on charges of ordering the beating of Georgian lawmaker Valery Gelashvili, has been in and out of civilian clinics several times over the last two months for unspecified health problems.

Merabishvili was interior minister in 2005 when Gelashvili was assaulted.

He and his supporters have rejected the charges, calling them politically motivated.

Merabishvili is a close ally of Georgia's former President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Saakashvili, who is currently residing in the Netherlands, was investigated separately in Gelashvili's case and sentenced in absentia to six years in prison in June after a court in Tbilisi found him guilty of abuse of power.

Earlier in January, Saakashvili was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison after being convicted of trying to cover up evidence about the killing of a Georgian banker.

He has rejected those charges as well, also calling them politically motivated.

Saakashvili was president of Georgia from 2004 to 2013.

Saakashvili lost his Georgian citizenship in 2015 when he accepted Ukrainian citizenship and took the post of governor in Ukraine's Odesa region.

He resigned that position in November 2016, complaining of rampant corruption, and has since become an ardent opponent of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

After beginning an opposition campaign to Poroshenko, Saakashvili was detained at a Kyiv restaurant in February and taken to the airport and flown to Poland, the country from which he returned to Ukraine in September 2017 after eluding a border blockade.

Georgian authorities have said they will seek Saakashvili's extradition.

With reporting by Interpressnews