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Georgia’s 3rd President Saakashvili Sent to Three Years in Prison in Absentia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, January 8
(TBILISI)--Georgia’s third President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now fighting against Petro Poroshenko’s government in Ukraine, has been sentenced to three years in prison in absentia for exceeding his official powers in relation to the notorious murder case of Sandro Girgvliani.

Last week, Tbilisi City Court ruledthat Georgia’s third president illegally pardoned four persons sentenced for Girgvliani’s murder in 2006. The court verdict also reads that Saakashvili is deprived of taking any official posts for 1.5 years.

Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office says that Saakashvili made a promise to then Interior Ministry official and now detained Data Akhalaia that he would pardon thoseheld accountable for the crime against 28-year-old Girgvliani. The 28-year-old victim was reported to have verbally abused Saakashvili’s government, certain government officials and their wives in a restaurant.

Saakashvili, who is now waiting for a trial in Ukraine for alleged contacts with criminal groups in Russia, says the oligarchs in Georgia, Ukraine and Russia have acted jointly against him.

However, Saakashvili promised he would change “criminal, corrupt authorities” both in Ukraine and Georgia.

The United National Movement (UNM) representatives, the party was founded by Saakashvili, says the verdict was illegal, containing threats to any president of Georgia.

“Saakashvili was sentenced for pardoning people, which is a constitutional right of any president and no one has a right to doubt the decision. One day the Georgian Dream (GD) government may also decide to punish current President Giorgi Margvelashvili for his decisions over pardoning people,” Nika Melia from the UNM opposition party said.

President Margvelashvili also shared the concerns that the verdict mayinclude threats to him or any future president of the country.

The Georgian Dream (GD) officials and lawmakers strongly dismiss any violations over the case reminding the opponents of the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

In April 2011, the ECHR ruled in favor of the Girgvliani family that sued the case against the Georgian government. Theverdict stated that the investigation into the murder case “manifestly lacked the requisite independence, impartiality, objectivity and thoroughness.”

The ECHR ordered the government of Georgia to pay to the family of the victimfor non-pecuniary damage EUR 50,000.

Saakashvili, serving as Georgia’s third president for two terms in 2004-2007 and again in 2008-2013, was officially charged in Georgia in 2014. However, at that time, he was supporting Poroshenko in Ukraine and after a year was appointed as a governor of Odessa.

The former president is charged with four cases in Georgia, related to the abuse of power, violent dispersal of a rally, exceeding of official powers and embezzlement of the budget money.

In 2016,Saakashvili opposed his one-time ally Poroshenko and accused him of lobbying corruption.

Last year, Poroshenko deprived Saakashvili of Ukraine’s citizenship leaving Georgia’s ex-president without a citizenship.