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Saakashvili Convicted Of Abuse Of Power, Sentenced In Absentia


Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili

TBILISI -- A Georgian court has sentenced former President Mikheil Saakashvili in absentia to six years in prison after convicting him of abuse of power.

In a June 28 verdict, the Tbilisi City Court found Saakashvili guilty of abusing his authority as president by trying to cover up evidence related to the 2005 beating of opposition lawmaker Valery Gelashvili.

Saakashvili, who currently lives in the Netherlands, condemned the ruling and charged that it was politically motivated.

"I am as guilty of beating up Valery Gelashvili as of murdering Kennedy and Trotsky," Saakashvili told Rustavi 2 TV, calling his in-absentia trial "a clown show that has nothing to do with the law."

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 rejected those charges as well, calling them politically motivated.

Saakashvili was president of Georgia from 2004-13. He lost his Georgian citizenship in 2015 when he accepted Ukrainian citizenship and took the post of Ukraine's Odesa governor.

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 against 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.

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