The former president returned to his home country on Friday. The politician, who left Georgia in 2013, has been the subject of multiple criminal cases into his alleged abuses of power, including a violent crackdown on the opposition. He has already been sentenced to combined nine years behind bars in absentia.
Saakashvili was arrested shortly after his arrival and was taken to a correctional facility in the city of Rustavi, located some 25km southeast of the capital Tbilisi. Police footage broadcast by local media shows a large convoy of police vehicles entering the jail’s premises with lights flashing. The handcuffed politician is brought for his perp walk shortly afterwards. Saakashvili appeared to be smiling broadly during this ‘photo opportunity’.
Shortly after the ex-president was detained, Georgian prosecutors announced the launch of a new criminal case against Saakashvili, as he allegedly entered the country illegally. Saakashvili lost his Georgian nationality back in 2015, when he was granted a Ukrainian one, since the country’s laws do not allow dual citizenship. With the standing convictions alone, the ex-president is expected to spend at least six years behind bars, prosecutors added.
Georgia’s incumbent president, Salome Zourabichvili, has ruled out any possibility she would pardon her controversial predecessor.
“Everyone is equal before the law. Many people ask whether the president will pardon Saakashvili, the answer is a simple one – no, never,” she told a press briefing late on Friday. She added that pardoning the politician would be unjust for “people who suffered from his regime.”
Meanwhile, Saakashvili has reportedly responded to the arrest by declaring a hunger strike.
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