TBILISI – The Tbilisi City Court on Thursday continued hearing a case in which former President Mikheil Saakashvili is charged with misappropriating public funds amounting to about 8 million lari (over $3 million).
The proceedings, which the Georgian media have dubbed ‘the Jacket Case’, are now in their third year.
The prosecution has accused Saakashvili of spending funds from the Special State Protection Service budget on his numerous trips abroad, staying at the most expensive hotels, visiting restaurants, and acquiring expensive clothes (i.e. jackets) and accessories for personal use.
At the hearing on Thursday, the prosecution charged Saakashvili with inviting a young and good-looking masseuse from Germany and paying for her services from the Special State Protection Service’s budget.
However, Temur Janashia, a former head of the Special State Protection Service, said in court that the service had not paid for the German masseuse’s services for Saakashvili.
Roman Gotsiridze, a leader of the Untied National Movement party founded by Saakashvili, told journalists on Thursday that setting a precedent of scrutinizing a former president’s expenses might cost the incumbent authorities dearly.
“The allegations that Saakashvili wasted public funds go beyond any normal limits. He has even been accused of unreasonably spending money on funeral wreaths for the late former Polish President Kaczynski and Czech President Havel. I warn the incumbent authorities that, when someone else comes in their stead, they’ll be reminded of every shashlik (a dish of skewered and grilled cubes of meat) eaten at public expense,” Gotsiridze said.
The Georgian prosecution service has also opened three other criminal cases against Saakashvili on abuse of office charges.