Anti-torture watchdog warns that Saakashvili could die without treatment abroad
Anti-torture watchdog “Empathy” has warned that the currently imprisoned former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, could die if he does not receive treatment outside of Georgia, reports OC Media. On November 28, in Mikheil Saakashvili’s absence, the Tbilisi City Court was hearing the case of the imprisoned former President involving unlawful border crossing.
Moreover, despite the pending trial, Georgian Public Defender Nino Lomjaria visited Saakashvili at the Vivamedi Clinic. “The former president’s health has sharply deteriorated, which is visually noticeable,” the Speaker claimed recently. “He is slimmed down considerably. He is unable to walk or stand up, according to the doctors. The doctor says his health has been deteriorating, especially since the beginning of October,” she stated.
Later, on December 1, the defence lawyers of imprisoned former President petitioned the Tbilisi City Court to either release Saakashvili or postpone his sentence per the provisions of the law for health reasons. The petition was presented by one of his lawyers, Shalva Khachapuridze, who explained that the 15-volume petition details the conclusions of medical experts, which are based on a physical examination of the former President, and also contain the photos that they took during that time.
The lawyers expressed hope that the Court would deliberate in the shortest possible time and interview roughly 25 relevant witnesses. According to Khachapuridze, “it is inconceivable for the Court not to decide to release or to postpone [Saakashvili’s] sentence based on […] the materials attached to the case.” Khachapuridze underscored that the failure of the Court to take such a decision would be in contravention of the law and would “mean the death sentence” for Saakashvili.
Article 283 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia says the sentence can be deferred on health grounds until the recovery or substantial improvement of the condition, based on a forensic medical examination report suggesting the convict has a severe illness that prevents them from serving their sentence. Article 284 of the same code says the sentence may be lifted due to old age and a severe or terminal illness.
On December 1, the centre “Empathy”, engaged by Saakashvili’s side, published parts of its 2.980-page report on Saakashvili’s health, covering the period from June 1 to November 28, 2022. This document served as the basis for the defence lawyers’ appeal. The report reads that the former President has been diagnosed with more than 20 diagnoses or symptoms, of which “about ten leading causes make his condition incompatible with imprisonment.”
While the centre did not release a specific diagnosis, according to the report, Saakashvili experiences unexplained and prolonged fever, anorexia, rapid weight loss, muscular and joints pains, as well as muscle spasms, which – the conclusion reads – may be the result of an unidentified infectious process and/or a possible intoxication.
According to the centre, the condition requires complex diagnostic tests and prolonged surveillance of the kind that is not currently available in Georgia to rule out infection and/or intoxication. The conclusion further says that if the current dynamic of deterioration of health condition persists, potential intoxication is “expected to result in a coma and death.”
Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairperson of the Georgian Dream party, reacted that the centre is biased as it is “directly linked” with the United National Movement (UNM). Therefore, he claimed, “this organisation’s trustworthiness equals zero.” On November 29, Justice Minister Rati Bregadze also addressed the ex-President’s health condition in a briefing, which maintained that since his arrest, Saakashvili has “enjoyed all rights granted to him by the law” and “to this day is under the supervision of highly qualified medical personnel.”
The Justice Minister did note that “due to the high level of responsibility which the state attaches to the life and health of each person,” the government has proposed to Saakashvili to “bring any doctor from any foreign clinic whom the state will allow being involved in his treatment.” Regarding calls for transferring Saakashvili abroad for treatment, Minister Bregadze explained that the “Justice Ministry does not have the legal leverage for initiating such a request.”