Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili transferred to prison again

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has returned to prison after his 50-day hunger strike.

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, now leader of the opposition, was returned to prison from the military hospital where he was being treated after a hunger strike on Thursday, the Georgia prison service said.

Arrested on October 1 on his return from eight years of exile in Ukraine, Mr. Saakachvili refused to eat for 50 days in protest against his imprisonment for a conviction for abuse of power, the political nature of which he denounces.

This 54-year-old pro-Westerner, at the head of his country from 2004 to 2013, began to eat again after being transferred at the end of November to a military hospital in Gori (east).

“The detainee Mikheïl Saakachvili is in the penitentiary establishment number 12”, said Thursday the Georgian Prison Service, thus announcing his return to the prison of Roustavi, about thirty kilometers from the capital Tbilisi.

A deputy of the ruling Georgian Dream party, David Sergeyenko, assured the press that, according to the military hospital, Saakashvili’s state of health had “stabilized”.

“He’s weak, he’s stunned”

Nika Gvaramia, Mr Saakashvili’s lawyer, however, claimed that his client had the same weight when leaving the hospital as when he was hospitalized after the hunger strike.

“He is weak, he is stunned,” Mr. Gvaramia told reporters, adding that an announcement was to be made on Friday on his client’s state of health.

An independent council of doctors said in December that the former president still suffered from serious neurological disorders, according to them a consequence of ill-treatment suffered in detention.

The arrest of this opposition figure exacerbated the political crisis resulting from last year’s legislative elections in Georgia, marked by fraud according to the opposition, and it also sparked the largest anti-government protests in 10 years.

Human rights defenders accuse the Georgian government of using criminal charges to punish political opponents.

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