The lawyers visited the third President of Georgia in Rustavi Penitentiary Institution # 12 for the first time on October 4. The audience of Mikheil Saakashvili and his lawyers in the penitentiary institution lasted for two hours. Beka Basilaia, one of Saakashvili’s lawyers, told RFE / RL that although the ex-president had been on hunger strike for three days, he felt confident and hoped he would “work with Georgian society to end the oligarchic, pro-Russian government in a constitutional way.”
Beka Basilaia is convinced that the cases on the basis of which the third president of Georgia has been tried and convicted are politically motivated and were used by the ruling team, the Georgian Dream, to neutralize Mikheil Saakashvili.
However, at the same time, the lawyer believes that after the arrest of the ex-president, the authorities are “wary” and this is evidenced by the October 3 statement of the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, “Behave properly, otherwise we will add other articles and follow others. “
“Leaving aside legal issues, it is uncivilized behavior when the Prime Minister speaks about aggravating the accusations. The Prime Minister does not ask who should be charged. “It is ridiculous that Mikheil Saakashvili did not shy away from being intimidated and frightened that he was lied to in Georgia, but he was still sentenced to six years in prison and decided to come to Georgia.
“Perhaps he will write in his memoirs how he crossed the Georgian border”
In what way and when did Mikheil Saakashvili enter Georgia? – This is one of the main questions to which the official answer is unknown to the public at this stage. No official statement has been made about this by law enforcement agencies. Public Defender Nino Lomjaria, who met with Mikheil Saakashvili a few hours after his arrest, did not speak about it. His teammates, who visited Mikheil Saakashvili in prison last weekend, do not speak about it either. The only thing they are talking about is that Mikheil Saakashvili entered Georgia at least four days before his arrest. According to them, he was in Batumi, where he took videos and shared them on the social network on October 1. According to them, Mikheil Saakashvili was also in Kutaisi and finally in Tbilisi, both on Mtatsminda and at the Government Chancellery.
Anyway, what did Mikheil Saakashvili say to his lawyers about his arrival in Georgia? Beka Basilaia tells us that he did not talk to Mikheil Saakashvili about this topic and he has one reason for that:
“Mikheil Saakashvili is the third president of Georgia, a politician who laid the foundation of our statehood, therefore, whether there will be criminal cases against Mikheil Saakashvili or not, and especially when these cases are politically motivated, any way he enters Georgia is legitimate and legal. So for me, as a lawyer, it does not matter how Mikheil Saakashvili came to Georgia. One might think that yes, it is a violation of the law when a person crosses the border bypassing the border guards, but unfortunately, we are talking about a person who has been persecuted by the government for many years for such comic cases as the so-called The Jacket Case, for hosting Joe Biden and delivering a bouquet to the Vaclav Havel Memorial, is a verdict of pardon for the presidency, and in such a case, a person can file a legal claim, why did not cross the checkpoint and why did you not cross this checkpoint? It is a moral behavior and does not conform to the spirit of the law. The principle of justice for Mikheil Saakashvili has been down all these years. Therefore, it is not a matter of principle for me to find out how he came into the country and in view of all this, he has not even talked to him about this issue. Probably, years later, when he decides to write memoirs, he will follow in his memoirs how he crossed the Georgian border years ago. “
Version – How Mikheil Saakashvili arrived in Georgia and how he found himself in Tbilisi
The Ministry of Internal Affairs is investigating the fact of illegal border crossing by Mikheil Saakashvili under Article 344 of the Criminal Code.
Shortly after the arrest of the ex-president, a version appeared in the media about how and in what way the third president of Georgia entered Georgia. According to this version, the convicted president entered Georgia from Ukraine via Poti port on the night of September 28. More specifically, a ferry coming to Georgia from the Odessa region, the trading port of Chernomorsk, used to transport food trucks. The third president of Georgia was hiding in one of such cars.
According to this version, the truck was driven by Elguja Tsomaia, who was sentenced to two months of pre-trial detention by the Tbilisi City Court on October 4. The investigation charges him with covering up the crime. But at this stage, his motive is not to transport Mikheil Saakashvili by truck, but to give his apartment to the third president of Georgia.
Elguja Tsomaia is not the only person arrested after Mikheil Saakashvili arrived in Georgia on charges of covering up a crime. On the morning of October 3, father and son Zurab and Shalva Tsotsoria were arrested. According to the investigation, on September 29, 2021, after Mikheil Saakashvili crossed the border illegally, “The accused provided his transportation in his own car and took him to his destination – one of the villages in Samegrelo.”
RFE / RL spoke to the defendant’s lawyer, Giorgi Goginava. As he tells us, for the time being, the accused are exercising their right to silence and he cannot talk about the details. However, it confirms the fact that the father and son took the third president of Georgia from Poti to Abasha in his own car. According to him, father and son work in Poti port and they have not had any contact with the law so far. Father and son Tsotsoria arrested in Poti on Sunday morning:
“The investigation accuses them of covering up their crime. The case materials have not been handed over yet. But I can tell you this is an absurd accusation. To top it all off, why should my clients know that, for example, the search for Mikheil Saakashvili was announced because of a particularly serious crime. The investigation accuses them of bringing the third president from point A to point B. We are fully motivated to fight. “
An unprecedented charge?
As for another accused, Elguja Tsomaia, who is close to the family of the accused Tsotsoria, he was detained by law enforcers in Tbilisi on October 1. On October 4, Beka Basilaia was representing his interests in court.
According to the lawyer, 63-year-old Elguja Tsomaia is an IDP from Abkhazia. He has two children. His wife died recently, in Covid. Beka Basilaia says that the accused has nothing to do with the “National Movement” and the only “crime” he faces before the law is that he “spent the night with the exiled president”.
Beka Basilaia says that Elguja Tsomaia was stopped by law enforcers on October 1 at a gas station in Tbilisi on charges of illegal purchase and storage of weapons, after which he was taken to his apartment for a search, where Mikheil Saakashvili was “found”:
“An investigation has been launched into the fact of illegal purchase and storage of weapons by Elguja Tsomaia. That an alleged stranger had informed law enforcement that he was keeping a gun in the house. Elguja Tsomaia has a weapon registered in his name. It was as if they were looking for a weapon and found Misha. “
As for the accusation against him, both Tsotsori’s lawyer and Beka Basilaia say that the accusation against Elguja Tsomaia is absurd. According to the lawyer, the investigation charges the detainee with a crime that is not provided by the Georgian legislation:
“Covering up a crime means covering up an action that law enforcement officers do not have information about, or have, but the case is under investigation. As for the actions and facts on which the verdict has already been handed down or the case has been opened and the person is accused, how should this be covered? Judgments have been handed down on the charges against Mikheil Saakashvili. Georgian law in covering up a crime means covering up a criminal fact so that this fact does not come before the investigation. Or obstruct an ongoing investigation. There is an article intended to cover up a crime so as not to interfere with the timely prevention of the crime or the opening of the crime. Mikheil Saakashvili’s cases are open, in one case he is accused, in the other case he is convicted. It should be noted that Elguja Tsomaia is accused of covering up the crime for which Mikheil Saakashvili has already been convicted. It is also noteworthy that there is no case law of the Supreme Court when a person is convicted under Article 375 (cover of crime) for sheltering a wanted person in whose case a verdict has already been handed down. ”
How did Mikheil Saakashvili contact Elguja Tsomaia?
According to the testimony of Elguja Tsomaia, who is in a one-volume case, on September 30, at night, Mikheil Saakashvili was brought home by a person who was wearing a turban and glasses. Beka Basilaia tells us that according to the case materials, the identity of the person who brought Mikheil Saakashvili to Elguja Tsomaia has not been established:
“Mr. Elguja did not feel that if he took refuge in Mikheil Saakashvili, he would commit any illegal act. By this logic, Mikheil Saakashvili met with the European parliamentarians every other day of Lama, and what admission should he have had that giving the overnight seat to the third president of Georgia contained any illegality? ”
As for the version spread in the media that the truck driven by Mikheil Saakashvili into Georgia was driven by Elguja Tsomaia, Beka Basilaia tells us:
“I will not ask him this question, because Elguja Tsomaia’s case is about covering up a crime. Therefore, I will not ask any questions about prehistory and I repeat, no matter what form Mikheil Saakashvili entered Georgia, he had a legitimate right to do so. “
On October 4, Mikheil Saakashvili was visited at the penitentiary by another of his lawyers, Nika Gvaramia, director general of the Main Channel.
The lawyer, who was released from prison, introduced Mikheil Saakashvili’s letter to the public. The former president says he will not end the hunger strike until he and the people arrested in his case are released.
On October 4, a rally in support of the third president of Georgia was held near Rustavi Establishment # 12. A convoy of several dozen cars left Tbilisi organized by the National Movement party.
Mikheil Saakashvili has been convicted of beating Valeri Gelashvili and Sandro Girgvliani in a three-instance court and has been sentenced to 6 years in prison. The decisions made by the court in these cases are final and cannot be appealed.
As for the cases in which Mikheil Saakashvili is accused, according to the prosecutor’s office, these are the facts of the raid on Imedi TV, the November 7 raid and the misappropriation of the Patarkatsishvili family, as well as the misappropriation of GEL 9,024,367 for his personal purposes. These cases are being considered in the Tbilisi City Court.
Mikheil Saakashvili left Georgia in 2013. Eight years later, on October 1, the third president of Georgia wrote on Facebook that he was in Georgia and soon posted videos to prove it.
On October 1, in the first half of the day, both the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the authorities insisted that Mikheil Saakashvili did not cross the Georgian border and did not leave the territory of Ukraine. It became known at the special briefing of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the evening that Mikheil Saakashvili was arrested in Tbilisi.