TBILISI -- Jailed former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has agreed to follow a call by the European Court of Human Rights to end his hunger strike if he is transferred to a civilian clinic from a prison hospital.
Saakashvili’s lawyer, Nika Gvaramia, announced his client’s statement on November 11.
But Justice Minister Rati Bregadze said on November 11 that Saakashvili will not be transferred to a civilian clinic but will be returned to the Rustavi detention center once he stops his hunger strike.
On November 10, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) called on Saakashvili to stop the hunger strike he started on October 1 right after he was arrested on his arrival to Georgia after an eight-year absence.
The ECHR also called on the Georgian government to keep it informed about Saakashvili’s state of health, as well as about the medical treatment being dispensed in the prison hospital. The ECHR also said Georgian authorities should ensure Saakashvili's safety while in custody and provide him with appropriate medical care for the post-hunger strike recovery period.
Saakashvili and his supporters have said that authorities transferred him to the prison hospital from a detention center in Rustavi near the capital, Tbilisi, against his will on November 8.
Saakashvili, his relatives, doctors, and lawyers have demanded his transfer to a civilian clinic.
Earlier in the day, Georgian Special Penitentiary Service released a video showing Saakashvili's November 8 transfer to the prison infirmary, saying that the footage "proves" that Saakashvili “disobeyed the lawful orders and acted aggressively.”
The video shows Saakashvili dragged against his will from the emergency vehicle to his cell.
The video caused widespread protest by opposition politicians, human rights activists, and on social media.
The ombudsman of Georgia, Nino Lomjaria, called it proof that Saakashvili was transferred under false pretenses and against his will, noting that the Penitentiary Service had distributed an edited version of the incident.
In response, hundreds of Saakashvili's United National Movement (ENM) party and their supporters held a fresh rally, this time outside the office of the State Security Service in Tbilisi, demanding Saakashvili’s transfer to a civilian hospital.
The ENM was outpolled decisively by the ruling Georgian Dream party in the October 3 nationwide municipal and mayoral vote.
The opposition has claimed that Georgian Dream won the mayoral races in the country's five biggest cities as a result of vote rigging.