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Georgia’s ex-president Saakashvili “poisoned”, claims doctor

Georgia’s jailed ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili was “poisoned” while awaiting trial in detention, according to a medical report released by his legal team on December 5. 

In the report, the US-based toxicologist David Smith says that “testing has revealed the presence of heavy metals” in Saakashvili’s body and the pathological symptoms he displays “are the result of heavy metal poisoning”.

Saakashvili was transferred to a hospital last year after a hunger strike that he maintained for 50 days to protest his jailing, which rights groups have denounced as politically motivated.

Just a day before the ex-president’s legal team released the medical report, Moldovan President Maya Sandu had expressed concerns about Saakashvili’s deteriorating health.

“Deeply concerned by the rapidly deteriorating state of health of Georgia’s former President Mikheil. Every human life is priceless and the gravity of the situation requires immediate transfer of Saakashvili to an appropriate hospital to save his life,” Sandu wrote on Twitter.

Saakashvili’s defense lawyers have petitioned the Tbilisi City Court to release the ex-president or to postpone sentencing due to his poor health. 

One of the lawyers, Shalva Khachapuridze, argued that the failure of the court to take action would violate Georgian law, and would “mean the death sentence” for Saakashvili.

Georgian authorities have maintained that the rights of the former president have been protected, including in his transfer for treatment to Gori Military Hospital in November and then to Vivamedi clinic in May.

In October 2021, Saakashvili returned to Georgia after eight years of political exile, calling on his followers to march on the capital, Tbilisi. He was subsequently arrested on longstanding abuse of office charges.

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