Georgia: Opposition believes former president was poisoned

TIBLIS, Georgia (HPD) — Georgia’s main opposition party has asked the courts to release former President Mikheil Saakashvili for a medical examination abroad amid concerns he is suffering from poisoning.

The United National Movement indicated that Saakashvili’s condition “may lead to coma and death” and that he should be sent to a top-level clinic in the United States or the European Union.

Saakashvili, who served as head of state from 2004 to 2013 and led the so-called Rose Revolution protests that toppled the previous president, left Georgia for Ukraine at the end of his second term and 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 ahead of nationwide municipal elections.

In a statement issued last week, the United National Movement, which Saakashvili came to lead, said that while the former president was in generally good health at the time of his arrest, he has since suffered weight loss, musculoskeletal pain and wasting. muscle “which may be the result of an infectious process not yet diagnosed and/or possible poisoning.”

The party stressed that a toxicological test revealed that Saakashvili has high levels of barium, bismuth and mercury. He added that the former president likely sustained a spinal cord injury while in prison and developed a severe form of traumatic stress disorder.

According to the statement, the findings were based on an examination conducted by Georgian and foreign experts through the Center for Empathy, a Georgian anti-torture NGO.

The government has not responded to the court request. But Irakli Kobakhidze, chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party, said there are no reasons to release Saakashvili.

“We cannot destabilize the country. We are being asked to make this decision politically, to release Saakashvili, to destabilize the country and of course we cannot make such a decision,” he said, according to the Rustavi-2 television channel.

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