Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili may be transferred from a prison cell to a hospital, where, if necessary, the prisoner will be force-fed. Mr Saakashvili went on a hunger strike immediately after his arrest in Tbilisi on the evening of October 1, stating that he was ready to die “to light Georgia’s path to freedom.” Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili responded by calling the former head of state a “swindler.” Meanwhile, the ex-president’s associates are confident that he is really “ready to go all the way.”
The version that the Georgian authorities might start force-feeding Mikheil Saakashvili arose after Justice Minister Rati Bregadze, during a spontaneous briefing for journalists, casually remarked: to prevent deterioration of the prisoner’s health ”. The Penitentiary Department, which is part of the structure of the Ministry of Justice, can use the protocol “On the rules of imprisonment” and force-feed a prisoner who refuses to eat.
“Such a protocol exists in many countries of the world,” lawyer Gela Nikolaishvili explained to Kommersant. According to him, the force-feeding method does not involve the use of violence. “Most likely, we are talking about transfusions of drugs necessary for the body, but in conditions when the prisoner is completely weakened or even in an unconscious state,” Mr. Nikolaishvili modeled a possible development of events.
At the same time, human rights activist Elena Tevdoradze, a former member of the Georgian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), warned in an interview with Kommersant: any form of “force-feeding” (including the use of belts and other devices) “will become rude violation of human rights ”.
She agrees that in the case of Mikheil Saakashvili, force-feeding can be applied according to the law, but only if the prisoner “is in a semi-conscious state and does not resist.”
On Tuesday, a council of doctors decided to “strengthen monitoring of the health of Mikhail Saakashvili” and recommended that he be transferred to a prison or city clinical hospital in case “the prisoner’s health condition continues to deteriorate.” It is in the hospital that, apparently, clinical manipulations will be carried out, if necessary, to save the patient’s life.
“At the same time, everything will look like Saakashvili kept his word and did not voluntarily stop the hunger strike, that is, he will save face,” David Avalishvili, an analyst with the Nation.ge news agency, said in an interview with Kommersant.
Earlier it was reported that Mikheil Saakashvili lost 15 kg during the hunger strike. Nevertheless, the ex-president promises “to starve to the end or until unconditional release.” “If I cannot help my country during my lifetime, maybe my death will illuminate Georgia’s path to freedom,” the former president said in a letter that was read out during a rally of many thousands in the capital’s Freedom Square on October 14.
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili is sure that Mikhail Saakashvili is not going to die at all. “He is a professional simulator and a swindler,” the head of government said at a briefing on Tuesday. The prime minister, who, according to the constitution, has all the power in the country, commented on a letter from a number of MEPs demanding the “immediate release” of Mikhail Saakashvili. The prime minister said that no one will release Saakashvili’s “swindler and simulator” until he has served the entire term of imprisonment – six years established for him by a Tbilisi court for abuse of power when he was president.
Meanwhile, as David Darchiashvili, a former member of parliament from Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) party, who personally knows the starving prisoner very well, noted in an interview with Kommersant, “these statements should be taken seriously.” “Mikhail is aware of what is happening and is ready to go to the end,” the politician assured.