Georgia charges ex-leader for brutal beating of opposition lawmaker

Georgian prosecutors on Tuesday filed criminal charges against former president Mikheil Saakashvili for allegedly ordering a savage beating of an oppostion lawmaker who suffered traumatic brain injury and broken bones.

AFP| Last Updated: Aug 05, 2014, 19:28 PM IST

Tbilisi: Georgian prosecutors on Tuesday filed criminal charges against former president Mikheil Saakashvili for allegedly ordering a savage beating of an oppostion lawmaker who suffered traumatic brain injury and broken bones.

The lawmaker, Valery Gelashvili, had given a newspaper interview just before the 2005 beating in which he made comments Saakashvili maybe found insulting, the Georgian state prosecutor`s office said.

"There is evidence that after the publication of the interview, Saakashvili sought to retaliate against Gelashvili," the prosecutor`s office said in a statement.

The interior minister at the time of the beating, Ivane Merabishvili, was also charged on Tuesday in relation the crime, having been in charge of a special operations squad suspected of carrying out the order. The chief of the squad was charged in April.
Saakashvili, who ruled Georgia for a decade until 2012 and now lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, had promoted Merabishvili to prime minister in the last months of his reign, but elections that same year ousted both of them.

The new charges added to others levelled by prosecutors last week against Saakashvili and several of his top lieutenants for abuse of power over the violent break up of anti-government demonstrations in 2007. A court has ordered the former president`s arrest.

Saakashvili has refused to return to Georgia to be questioned by prosecutors. He says he has no confidence in the current authorities.

Some concerns have also been voiced in the West of the charges against Saakashvili and his entourage being politically motivated.

Saakashvili first came to power in 2003, after a pro-Western "Rose Revolution" toppled president Eduard Shevardnadze and his Soviet-era style rule. He proved to be a staunch US ally if a somewhat flamboyant reformist who cut corruption, built new infrastructure and revived the country`s devastated economy.