Georgia’s former president appears in court on abuse of power charges

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The former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, has appeared in court on charges of abuse of office.

Saakashvili has been imprisoned since he returned to the country on October 1 after eight years of exile. He served as Georgia’s president from 2004 to 2013 before leaving for Ukraine at the end of his second term.

Saakashvili was later convicted in absentia of abuse of power and sentenced to six years in prison.

His arrest has prompted scuffles between his supporters and police following last month’s nationwide municipal elections.

Saakashvili went on a seven-week hunger strike following his arrest before authorities agreed to transfer him from a prison clinic to a military hospital. His lawyers and doctors say he has suffered neurological damage.

On Monday, he was brought to Tbilisi City Court for his first public appearance since he was arrested.

Saakashvili is accused of violently dispersing a 2007 protest but has dismissed the charges as political and said he doesn’t recognise the authority of the prosecutor’s office.

At the time, Saakashvili admitted that police had used excessive force and resigned before winning early elections.

In court, he “regretted several mistakes” made during his nine years in power but says he has “zero chance of finding justice”.

The former Caucasus leader is also facing charges related to the raiding of the Imedi TV company and the seizure of the property of its owner.

“The whole world is amazed that I am addressing you through this glass wall instead of walking freely in the country I have built,” Saakashvili stated in court.

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“I was tortured, treated inhumanely, beaten and humiliated” in detention, the 53-year-old added.

He also called for a “peaceful mobilisation” to end the rule of the ruling Georgian Dream party of oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Police detained several people Monday during clashes between Saakashvili’s supporters and officers.


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