Imprisoned Georgia Ex-President Saakashvili Ends 50-Day Hunger Strike

Imprisoned Georgia Ex-President Saakashvili Ends 50-Day Hunger Strike

Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili ended a roughly 50-day hunger strike on Friday that he started in early October while imprisoned on dubious corruption charges, the Georgian Times reported.

“Mikheil Saakashvili today accepted the offer of the [Georgian] Minister of Justice, Rati Bregadze, to be transferred to Gori Hospital,” the Tbilisi-based newspaper reported on November 19. “According to Saakashvili, he will end his hunger strike as soon as he is hospitalized.”

“He (Saakashvili) is ready to be transferred to a Gori hospital and stop the hunger strike immediately after the transfer,” Saakashvili’s attorney, Nika Gvaravia, told¬†Russia’s state-run TASS news agency on Friday.

Gori Hospital, or the Giorgi Abramishvili Military Hospital, is located in the Georgian city of Gori and is run by Georgia’s Ministry of Defense. Earlier on Friday, Saakashvili agreed to end his hunger strike if Georgian authorities transferred him from a prison hospital in the Georgian district of Gldani to a military hospital. The Georgian Times confirmed on November 19 that Saakashvili had been “transferred from Gldani to Gori Hospital from the 18th Penitentiary Medical Institution.”

Saakashvili served as president of Georgia from 2004 to 2013. He left Georgia for Ukraine “several days before the expiration of his second term in office” in November 2013, TASS recalled Friday. A Georgian court in June 2018 convicted Saakashvili in absentia of abuse of power by “seeking to cover up evidence about the beating of an opposition member of parliament when he was president,” Reuters reported at the time. The court sentenced Saakashvili to six years in prison for the charges, which he denied as politically motivated.

“Saakashvili was sentenced to a separate three years in prison in January [2018] after being convicted of seeking to cover up evidence about the murder of a Georgian banker,” Reuters noted at the time.

Saakashvili returned to Georgia on October 1 after eight years of exile in an effort to bolster opposition forces ahead of nationwide municipal elections. He was immediately arrested by Georgian police for “illegal border crossing.” The ex-president¬†embarked on a hunger strike days later to protest what he described as his “illegal detention.”

Saakashvili’s hunger strike reportedly caused a severe deterioration in his health in recent days. Georgia’s human rights commissioner said on November 17 the ex-leader “needed to be moved to intensive care to avoid the risk of heart failure, internal bleeding and coma after more than a month and a half on hunger strike.”

Gabrielle Reyes