Georgian prison hospital treating ex-president ‘violates human rights’, public ombudsman says


Mikheil Saakashvili, former Georgian president and newly appointed head of the executive committee of Ukraine’s National Reform Council, speaks during an interview with Reuters at his home in Lisnyky village outside of Kiev, Ukraine, on May 8, 2020. REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko / File Photo

MOSCOW, November 9 (Reuters) – The prison hospital that treats hunger strike ex-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili lacks proper medical equipment and has been subjected to threats and abuse by of his fellow detainees, a Georgian human rights official said on Tuesday.

“Particular attention must be paid to the environment in which Mikheil Saakashvili is placed, which seriously violates human rights,” Public Defender Nino Lomjaria, Georgia’s human rights ombudsperson, said in a statement.

Authorities in the South Caucasus country on Monday transferred Saakashvili, 53, to a prison hospital in the capital Tbilisi, just over five weeks after declaring a hunger strike in prison.

Lomjaria, who visited him the same day, said insults and threats from other prisoners “can be heard in Saakashvili cell … and clearly represent psychological pressure”.

In a letter published by his lawyers earlier on Tuesday, Saakashvili claimed that prison guards cursed him, dragged him to the ground, including by the hair, and hit him several times on the neck during his transfer. .

Saakashvili was arrested on October 1 after returning from exile in Georgia to rally the opposition on the eve of local elections, in what he described as a mission to save the country. He faces six years in prison after being convicted in absentia in 2018 of abusing his office during his presidency from 2004 to 2013, charges he dismisses as politically motivated.

A Georgian court is due to hear his case on Wednesday, the RIA news agency reported.

The mediator said that the lack of equipment in the prison hospital necessary to treat Saakashvili “clearly violates the state’s obligation to respect human dignity”.

“It should also be noted that Mikheil Saakashvili continues to be on hunger strike and refuses to receive drugs, medical care, minerals or vitamins necessary for hunger strike procedures,” the statement said.

Saakashvili is the most important and controversial living figure in Georgia’s post-Soviet history, having come to power via a peaceful “rose revolution” in 2003 and led the country into a disastrous war with Russia. years later.

His case has drawn thousands of his supporters to the streets in recent weeks and has raised political tensions in the country of 3.7 million people. State security services accused him over the weekend of plotting a coup.

Georgian authorities have already declared that Saakashvili will not be pardoned.

Reporting by David Chkhikvishvili; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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