Former Georgian President Saakashvili poisoned in prison

A medical report reveals enormous amounts of mercury and arsenic that threaten his life

Thousands of citizens defy the cold and the Government in Tbilisi. For the fourth day in a row, the streets of the Georgian capital were filled with protesters calling for the release of former President Mikhail Saakashvili . More than a year after the arrest, a medical report denounces that the ex-president is being poisoned in prison. The document, distributed by Saakashvili’s legal team, states that “tests reveal the presence of heavy metals” in the body and the pathological symptoms he presents “are the result of heavy metal poisoning.” During the medical tests, high levels of toxic agents were found, including mercury and arsenic.. The authors of the report, dated November 28, claim that Saakashvili was administered harmful medication without proper supervision. “Increased risk of mortality is imminent” without adequate treatment, “which appears to have been denied or unavailable” in Georgia.

Another independent doctor, Mariam Jishkariani , who led a board of doctors that examined Saakashvili, told La Agence France-Presse on Monday that “he has been diagnosed with brain damage and neurointoxication.” He “suffers from a series of serious illnesses, incompatible with his confinement, under Georgian law.”Saakashvili returned to Georgia, where he was automatically detained on October 1, 2021 , after eight years in exile. He was arrested after entering the country illegally and sentenced to six years in prison for crimes of abuse of power during his presidential administration (2004-2013).

Saakashvili, who came to power after the so-called Revolution of the Roses , is accused by the current Georgian Executive of abuse of power during the dispersal of an opposition demonstration in 2007, as well as the embezzlement of more than five million dollars during his mandate.

Saakashvili fled the country in 2014. In 2018, without his presence at the trial, he was sentenced to prison , charges that are considered politicized by the international community. According to Amnesty International, the arrest of senior opposition leaders, including former President Saakashvili , and the degrading treatment they received while in detention raised concerns about judicial independence.

In November, the European Union ambassador criticized the Georgian authorities for “setbacks in the field of the judiciary and the rule of law,” which included “non-transparent and non-competitive” politicized appointments of Supreme Court and Supreme Court judges. Superior Council of Justice, and because the promised constitutional reforms regarding the appointment process of the attorney general had not been adopted.Upon entering prison, the ex-president began a hunger strike that took him five weeks later to a prison hospital. On November 30, he was returned to his cell. His doctors then reported the precariousness of health care and the ill-treatment received during his detention. The Georgian NGO Empathy, which participated in the medical report published by the former president’s lawyers, published the conclusions of its experts, “the patient was subjected to alleged torture and ill-treatment. The physical and psychological inhumane treatment and the narrations of the examinee including deception, forced hospitalization, humiliation and death threats by the prisoners”.

In one of the transfers, “he was received with continuous shouting, insults and threats from the prisoners. For 11 days he could not sleep, because when the lights went out the prisoners would immediately start cursing and insulting”. Justice Minister Rati Bregadze has called opposition claims that Saakashvili might have been poisoned “completely immoral.”

According to the statements of his lawyers, Saakashvili was deprived of sleep; starving and suffering from Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which developed as a result of starvation, “in a vulnerable state, he was left alone in the hastily assembled intensive care ward. No one responded to his calls. The prisoners were shouting and threatening to kill him. Under these conditions, the examinee ran the risk of being killed.”

The allegations have not been able to be investigated by a public body, as the State Inspectorate Service was dissolved by the Government. So far, the Irakli Garibashvili executive has refused Saakashvili’s request for a new trial.

The last time Georgians took to the streets was to protest the results of the parliamentary elections in October 2021, where the Georgian Dream political party won the majority of the country. Officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that while the runoff election was generally “well managed”, it was also “marred by widespread and ongoing accusations of intimidation, vote buying and pressure on candidates and voters. The demands of the United National Movement, Saakashvili’s party, are the early holding of elections and the release of the former president.

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