Former Georgia president was poisoned in prison, lawyers say


Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was “poisoned” in prison with heavy metals and is at risk of dying if he does not receive proper treatment, according to a medical bulletin released on Monday (5) by his lawyers.

The 54-year-old reformist was admitted to hospital last year following a 50-day hunger strike to protest his arrest, which human rights groups denounced as a politically motivated decision.

In a report released by Saakashvili’s legal team, toxicologist David Smith commented that “tests revealed the presence of heavy metals” in the former politician’s body and his symptoms were due to “heavy metal poisoning”.

“With a reasonable degree of medical certainty,” the described toxins, including arsenic and mercury, would have been introduced after his entry into prison, according to Smith.

The authors of the report, dated November 28, mentioned that harmful drugs were being administered to him without proper supervision.

imminent risk

The “increased risk of death is imminent” without adequate treatment, which “appears to be denied or unavailable” in Georgia, Smith added.

Georgian authorities insist Saakashvili is receiving adequate medical care.

Another independent doctor, Mariam Jishkariani, who headed the board of doctors responsible for examining Saakashvili, told AFP on Monday that professionals had diagnosed brain damage and neurological toxicity in the former president’s body.

Saakashvili, founder of Georgia’s main opposition force and president of the Caucasus country from 2004 to 2013, was convicted in absentia of abuse of office and sentenced to six years in prison in 2018.

The pro-Western reformer was arrested in October 2021, a few days after his secret return to Georgia from his exile in Ukraine.

In October, the Council of Europe, an international organization based in Strasbourg made up of 46 countries, called for “the release of political prisoners in opposition to Vladimir Putin in Russia and other countries, including Mikheil Saakashvili”.

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