Georgia’s jailed former president Saakashvili transferred to prison hospital

Mikheil Saakashvili has been transferred to a prison hospital, Georgia’s jail authority said. The politician went on hunger strike over a month ago after he was jailed upon his return to Georgia.

The transfer was announced by the Georgian prison service in a Facebook statement on Monday. The politician was transferred to a prison unit used for treating inmates, the service said without providing any further detail on Saakashvili’s condition.

The ex-president has been on a hunger strike for over a month already, protesting his incarceration. The authenticity of his hunger strike, however, has been challenged by the country’s officials, with Georgia’s justice minister saying on Friday that Saakashvili has been actually consuming “porridges and natural juices” during the strike.

The claims were backed up by CCTV footage released by the Georgian Justice Ministry, apparently showing Saakashvili snacking at a jail doctor’s office. The ex-leader, however, rejected the allegations, insisting he has not violated the hunger strike and was actually filmed taking medicine in “various forms.”

Saakashvili ended up in a Georgian prison on October 1, after he abruptly returned to his home country amid local elections, with the country’s authorities claiming he arrived to stage a “coup.” The politician himself, however, insisted he arrived to “save” the country, urging his supporters to protest.

The ex-president fled Georgia back in 2013 and has been the subject of multiple criminal cases over alleged abuses of power and other offenses during his time in office. He has already been sentenced to a combined nine years behind bars in absentia. Georgia’s prosecutors said the ex-leader is set to serve at least six years behind bars on the standing convictions, while the country’s incumbent president, Salome Zourabichvili, ruled out any possibility she would pardon her predecessor.

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Last week, however, Zourabichvili acknowledged that Saakashvili must be recognized as a special prisoner, and the jail authorities must do their best to avoid a situation when “the deterioration of his health” would be “used for political speculation or destabilization.”

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