Imprisoned Georgian ex-Soviet president faces trial
Tbilisi The Independent: – The former president of the former Soviet republic of Georgia appeared in court on Monday on charges of abuse of office, actions that sparked scuffles between his supporters and the police.
Mikhail Saakashvili, who served as president in 2008-13, left Georgia for Ukraine after the expiration of his second term and was later convicted in absentia of abuse of power and sentenced to six years in prison. He was arrested on 1 October after returning to Georgia in an attempt to support opposition forces ahead of nationwide municipal elections.
Saakashvili went on a seven-week hunger strike after his arrest, ending it on November 19 after authorities agreed to transfer him from a prison clinic to a military hospital. His lawyers and doctors said it caused him neurological damage.
Monday’s hearings in the Tbilisi City Court on a new case against Saakashvili over the violent dispersal of a 2007 demonstration marked Saakashvili’s first public appearance since his arrest.
Speaking in court, Saakashvili said he did not recognize the authority of the Prosecutor General’s Office and used the hearings to denounce Georgian authorities.
“The whole world is amazed that I am addressing you through this glass wall instead of walking freely in the country I built,” the former president said during the court session.
Saakashvili also faces charges related to the raid on Imedi TV and the confiscation of the property of its owner, the late businessman Bedri Patarkatsishvili.
Police arrested several people on Monday during scuffles between Saakashvili’s supporters and his officers.
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