03 July 2023

Ex-president Saakashvili tells Georgian court he is spiritually fit

03 July 2023

Georgia’s imprisoned former president Mikheil Saakashvili appeared severely emaciated in videolink testimony to a court considering an abuse-of-power case against him.

Mr Saakashvili and his supporters claim he has been poisoned while imprisoned and that he now weighs about 60 kilograms, half of what he weighed when he was arrested in October 2021.

From a private clinic where he was being held, he told the court that despite his poor health, he was “spiritually fit and determined to serve the country”, according to local news site Agenda.

Mr Saakashvili, who served as Georgia’s president in 2004-13 and led the so-called Rose Revolution protests that drove the previous president out of office, left for Ukraine after the end of his second term.

He was later convicted in absentia of abuse of power and sentenced to six years in prison.

He was arrested in October 2021 after returning to Georgia to try to bolster opposition forces before nationwide municipal elections.

He is now on trial on charges connected to the violent dispersal of an opposition rally in 2007.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for Georgia to send Mr Saakashvili to Ukraine for medical treatment and said the Georgian ambassador would be called to the foreign ministry and encouraged to leave Ukraine within two days for consultations with his government.

Mr Saakashvili holds Ukrainian citizenship and was governor of the Odesa region in 2015-16.

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