Statement of Human Rights Center regarding the Deterioration of Health Condition of Mikheil Saakashvili and Ill-Treatment practiced against him

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On December 14, the Tbilisi City Court heard the motion of the defense counsels of the third President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili to exempt him from the sentence or alternatively to suspend his sentence due to the deterioration of the health condition. Mikheil Saakashvili was not attending the hearing as according to the health certificate produced by clinic Vivamedi the health condition of the prisoner did not allow his movement and transportation. The Penitentiary Service failed to ensure his online appearance at the hearing. According to the representative of the Penitential Service, it was technically impossible to provide remote connection for the prisoner. 

Under the modern conditions where the court and the clinic Vivamedi are equipped with various technical tools, such  statements raise doubts about whether it is in the interests of the State to allow the prisoner to personally state his position about his health condition at the court hearing and to personally exercise the right to defense as envisaged by the procedural law of Georgia. 

Referring to the argument of not having studied the case files, the representative of the Penitentiary Service requested to adjourn the hearing for a month. Noteworthily, the case files were available to the Penitentiary Service from the very beginning. Consequently, the petition to adjourn the matter strengthens the doubts that the State is not interested in rendering prompt justice against Saakashvili which is of vital importance taking into account the severe health condition of the prisoner. 

On December 1, 2022, the defense counsels of Mikheil Saakashvili filed a motion with Tbilisi City Court as prescribed by the applicable legislation and requested to exempt Saakashvili from the sentence or alternatively to suspend his sentence due to the deterioration of his health condition. Fifteen bundles of the motion include the assessments by Georgian and foreign experts, evidence obtained by the defense and conclusions of the medical examination. Recently, after the information about significant  deterioration of Mikheil Saakashvili's health condition was spread, on December 4-5, Group of Experts set up by the Public Defender conducted monitoring in clinic Vivamedi to assess the health condition of the prisoner. The report produced after the monitoring reads that after the last assessment (27.04.2022), Mikheil Saakashvili's health condition has sharply deteriorated and is assessed as severe. Saakashvili suffers from sharp weight loss, declining muscle mass, sensory disfunction in the limbs, cognitive impairment (memory deterioration, behavioral change) and difficulties in movement. 

2980 pages long opinion disseminated by Empathy Centre also notes sharp deterioration of Mikheil Saakashvili's health condition mentioning more than 20 diagnoses or symptoms out of which "there are about 10 leading diagnoses which makes his imprisonment incompatible”. The opinion published by the Center states that there are no diagnostic and treatment tools available in Georgia to cure Saakashvili and particularly to exclude the doubts of infection and / or intoxication, as the development of current dynamics, given the probability of intoxication, would result in coma and death.

Despite the serious medical diagnosis, calls by local and international organizations and European MPs, the authorities of Georgia fail to admit the need of taking immediate steps for protecting the life and health of the prisoner. Particularly alarming are the statements of high-ranking officials and full indifference toward the implementation of the individual’s rights to life and health leaving a feeling that practice of these rights by the government depends on the political and social status of a human being. Such statements may also serve as the basis for indirect pressure on the trial judge once again raising a question of impartiality and independence of the court.

On October 12, 2022, HRC published an analytical document - The Prisoner's Right to Healthcare  elaborating on the health condition of Mikheil Saakashvili and analyzing the events related to the trial. The document also reviews the national and international regulations governing exemptions from serving the remaining part of the sentence due to old age or illness. Under the HRC recommendation,   it is necessary the Ministry of Justice and the Special Penitentiary Service to elaborate the issue of suspending the sentence to Saakashvili and  providing him the possibility to receive treatment abroad, taking into consideration the particularly serious  condition  of the prisoner’s health; such cases are known to Georgian justice with HRC also having processed a case where a prisoner received treatment abroad and his sentence was suspended.

The information spread over two months after the analytical document was published by HRC indicates that the treatment provided in Vivamedi does not have a positive impact on the severe health condition of the prisoner and the situation becomes even more serious considering the dynamics. 

HRC believes that the information spread about Mikheil Saakashvili's health fully provides the grounds under the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia for suspending the execution of the sentence. Therefore, it is significant that when hearing the motion by the defense the court to be guided only by the interests of protecting the right of the individual to life and health as guaranteed by the Constitution of Georgia and international law and ensure the provision of prompt justice in the case.

Human Rights Center