For the second time this year, a Georgian court has sentenced former President Mikheil Saakashvili in absentia to a term of imprisonment. On June 28, the Tbilisi Municipal Court found Saakashvili guilty of exceeding his authority and indirectly inflicting grievous bodily harm by instigating an assault in July 2005 on opposition parliamentarian Valeri Gelashvili.
The judge handed down a six-year prison term, and ruled that Saakashvili, who is currently resident in the Netherlands following his deportation from Ukraine, may not hold public office for two years and three months after that sentence expires.
The same court sentenced Saakashvili in early January 2018 to three years’ imprisonment http://agenda.ge/news/93349/en g after finding him guilty of exceeding his authority by pardoning in 2008 four Interior Ministry personnel found guilty of the murder in January 2006 of banker Sandro Girgvliani.
Saakashvili has appealed that sentence, which he reportedly described as “contrary to international norms and common sense.”
Saakashvili still faces two further criminal charges. The first, brought in July 2014, is of exceeding his authority by issuing orders in November 2007 for the use of force against opposition demonstrators who staged rallies in Tbilisi to demand his resignation, and against the independent TV station Imedi for its coverage of those protests, and confiscating assets then owned by billionnaire businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili.
The second relates to the alleged misuse in 2009-2013 of some 8.83 million laris ($3,598,200, £2,748, 665) of public funds. According to the prosecution, some of that money was spent on luxury hotels and clothing.
Those four sets of charges were among a total of 10 cases in connection with which the Georgian Prosecutor General’s office summoned Saakashvili for questioning in March 2014. Others relate to the suppression of a purported mutiny at a military base in May 2009, and the circumstances of the death in February 2005 of then Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania
Saakashvili, who left Georgia in late 2013 after the end of his second term, rejected that summons, and all subsequent ones, and has consistently dismissed all the charges against him as politically motivated.
In July 2014, three prominent international experts on criminal law were invited to Tbilisi to assist and advise on unspecified “high-profile, politically sensitive cases involving high-ranking public officials, in order to meet the highest possible standards of impartiality, fairness, due process, consistency, and transparency.”
The fact that charges were brought against Saakashvili shortly after those consultations suggests that the three experts evaluated the body of evidence against him and concluded that it was adequate to deflect any argument that the charges were unsubstantiated and/or politically motivated.