TBILISI -- Doctors who examined former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has been on a hunger strike in prison for nearly three weeks, have recommended that the prison administration transfer him to a hospital for observation.
The group of six doctors visited Saakashvili on October 19, the 19th day of a hunger strike that Saakashvili started after he was imprisoned following his return to Georgia from exile. The 53-year-old has said his arrest was politically motivated. "We made a recommendation for hospitalization to avoid complications of Saakashvili's health condition, which could deteriorate at any moment," said Zurab Pagava, one of the doctors in the group, according to Interfax.
Saakashvili’s personal doctor, Nikoloz Kipshidze, who also visited him in custody, told reporters that Saakashvili could be transferred to a hospital on October 23 or October 24. Kipshidze said however that Saakashvili must consent to hospitalization. He added that Saakashvili's current state of health is stable -- unchanged from the day before. Kipshidze has said the former leader's "underlying blood disorder makes his hunger strike particularly dangerous."
Under Georgian law, a medical intervention without a patient's consent is only allowed "if the person is unconscious and there is an imminent risk to his life," Saakashvili’s lawyer, Dito Sadzaglishvili, told AFP. Georgian Justice Minister Rati Bregadze told journalists: "Our sole interest is that his rights are respected and his health is stable."
Saakashvili’s detention in a prison in Rustavi has deepened a protracted political crisis in Georgia. Dozens of European lawmakers and other current and former politicians have called for his release.
Saakashvili was arrested on October 1 hours after he announced he had returned to Georgia following an eight-year absence. His arrest triggered a protest by tens of thousands of his supporters in Tbilisi last week. Georgian law enforcement agencies accuse him of illegally crossing the border. Saakashvili served as the South Caucasus country's president from 2004 and 2013. He was sentenced in 2018 in absentia to a total of nine years in prison after being convicted of abuse of power in two separate cases. The ex-president has rejected all charges as politically motivated.