Published: Wed, December 13, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Saakashvili escapes pretrial detention in Ukraine on a judge's ruling

Saakashvili escapes pretrial detention in Ukraine on a judge's ruling

Saakashvili, who was Georgia's president before he entered Ukrainian politics, must be placed under house arrest, said Yuri Lutsenko, Ukraine's prosecutor general, late on Monday.

Judge Larysa Tsokol told Kyiv's Pechera district court that the prosecutors' request to put Saakashvili under house arrest pending trial was "dismissed", prompting applause by Saakashvili's supporters in the courtroom.

Thousands of people rallied Sunday in central Kiev to demand the release of detained former Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili and the impeachment of his rival, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Saakashvili claims the current government is not interested in investigating past economic crimes or preventing future episodes as it benefits from them.

Mr. Saakashvili said after the verdict that he would coordinate with other political forces in Ukraine to push for a peaceful change of government.

Saakashvili's lawyer asked the judge to cancel the hearing, saying that his client had not been served papers about his case in person and in the presence of an attorney and contending that was illegal.

"I don't consider myself a detainee, I consider myself a prisoner of war", he told journalists before the Monday hearing.

Outside the courthouse about 200 of Saakashvili's supporters scuffled with police.

Saakashvili rose to power in Georgia during the 2003 Rose Revolution that drove then President Eduard Shevardnadze from office. He served two terms as Georgia's president from 2004 to 2013, winning acclaim for his anti-corruption efforts, but drawing criticism over a disastrous war with Russian Federation and what his opponents saw as an authoritarian streak.

Saakashvili became governor of Ukraine's Odesa region in 2015 but quit a year later, accusing the authorities of sabotaging reform efforts in the region and nationwide. Critics also accused him of having an authoritarian streak, and he was subsequently charged with embezzlement in Georgia. "One bad article after another is the shame of Ukraine".

"Putin is winning, he is laughing, he is roaring with laughter", Saakashvili said, ridiculing the concept that he and Russian authorities could possibly be plotting together. "The court decision was a slap in the face for the government".

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