Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
Culture | By Antonia Gonzales

Saakashvili jailed in absentia

Saakashvili jailed in absentia

A Tbilisi court on Friday sentenced former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in absentia to three years in prison for abusing his powers in a murder case of a banker in 2006.

"The "verdict" of the Georgian court, which is under the full control of Gazprom's largest private shareholder, Ivanishvili, against me is completely illegal and contradicts all worldwide, national norms and common sense", Saakashvili wrote on his Facebook page on Friday.

UNM's Zaza Bibilashvili, who convened a special press briefing today, said the judge who preceded over the case was "a criminal", and accused him of following the instructions of ex-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and the incumbent officials of the Georgian Dream government.

Saakashvili, 50, served two terms as Georgian president from 2004 to 2013, before moving to Ukraine in May 2015 when he acquired Ukrainian citizenship and was appointed governor of Ukraine's southern Odessa region. Currently, Saakashvili is involved in organizing anti-government protests in Ukraine. He resigned from that post in 2016 and harshly criticized Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for not halting the official corruption that has crippled the country.

The Ukrainian leader a year ago stripped Saakashvili of his citizenship while he was overseas; Saakashvili returned to Ukraine in September and has led a series of protests against the government. Georgia has requested Saakashvili's extradition but Ukraine has not complied.

Last month, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said it would not discuss a possible extradition with the Georgian side.

Khatia Dekanoidze, a member of Saakashvili's United National Movement party in Georgia, said the January 5 verdict in Tbilisi might help Ukrainian authorities extradite Saakashvili to Georgia.

In his statement, Mr. Saakashvili called the ruling ridiculous and orchestrated by a political enemy, Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire and a former prime minister who has had business interests in Russian Federation.

He did not provide evidence to back up the assertion.

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