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Georgian Ex-President's Trial Postponed After Doctors Deny Transfer.

Mikheil Saakashvili speaks in court in Tbilisi in December 2021.

Mikheil Saakashvili speaks in court in Tbilisi in December 2021.

Doctors for former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili have recommended against transporting him to the Tbilisi City Court building from a clinic where he has been treated since May despite his desire to take part in a hearing in a case against him.

Saakashvili had expressed his desire to be transferred to the court to attend the hearing on a charge of illegal border crossing filed last year, and it had been expected that he would speak at the trial.

But his attending physician said it would be inappropriate, based on the fact that he could not take responsibility for the possible deterioration of Saakashvili's health during the transfer.

Judge Nino Chakhnashvili decided on another postponement of the trial after receiving the doctors' recommendation.

Court hearings have been repeatedly canceled or postponed because the 54-year-old Saakashvili, who held two separate hunger strikes earlier this year, has been unable to appear in court for health reasons.

Saakashvili, who served as Georgia's president from 2004 until 2013, is the founder of the main opposition United National Movement (ENM) party.

The ENM believes that the authorities are trying to conceal the state of Saakashvili's health. Representatives of the ruling Georgian Dream party disagree, saying that Saakashvili's public appearance would only be a publicity stunt.

Saakashvili, who cannot move independently, had decided that he would arrive at the trial in a special wheelchair, according to one of his lawyers, Shavla Khachapuridze, who added that his condition was "serious" and that his defense team had been told by phone from abroad that arsenic was found in his blood.

Nika Melia, chairman of the ENM, said that had Saakashvili appeared in court it would have confirmed the conclusions of several foreign experts who have spoken about the deterioration of his health and would have confirmed the comments of people who have visited him that his condition has deteriorated sharply since his transfer from prison to the Vivamed clinic.

The authorities do not want this to be disclosed to the public because it would conflict with "propaganda" circulating in the media that Saakashvili and his defenders have exaggerated his condition, Melia said.

Saakashvili was convicted in January 2018 in absentia of abuse of office and sentenced to three years in prison. Later that year he was again convicted in absentia of abuse of office and sentenced to six years in prison.

He was arrested on October 1, 2021, after he returned to the country to rally the opposition ahead of local elections.

Saakashvili and his supporters say all his prosecutions were politically motivated.

Georgia has been plagued by political paralysis and escalating tensions between Georgian Dream and the opposition since parliamentary elections in 2020.

The crisis has been exacerbated by the arrest of Saakashvili, who doctors say suffers from severe post-traumatic stress and anorexia that most likely developed after his hunger strikes. They said in May that he needed urgent and complex neuro-psychological and physical treatment.

Even before Saakashvili was transferred to the Vivamed clinic his relatives, friends, and colleagues demanded the authorities allow him to travel abroad to receive medical treatment.

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