US urges humane treatment for jailed Georgia ex-president on hunger strike

Mr Mikheil Saakashvili being escorted by police officers in Georgia on Oct 1, 2021. He was transferred to a prison hospital due to his deteriorating health. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States on Thursday (Nov 18) urged Georgia to provide humane treatment to jailed ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, who has been on a hunger strike for weeks is now reported to be in critical condition.

"We urge the government of Georgia to treat Mr Saakashvili fairly and with dignity," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

"We also strongly urge the Government of Georgia to ensure Mr Saakashvili is able to attend all court hearings for his pending criminal cases, in line with international law."

Mr Saakashvili, who has refused to eat for 49 days to protest his imprisonment after returning from exile in Ukraine, was transferred to a prison hospital due to his deteriorating health.

On Wednesday, a council of medics set up by ombudsperson Nino Lomjaria said after examining Mr Saakashvili that his "current status is assessed as critical" and that he faced a risk of fatal complications in the immediate future.

The 53-year-old pro-Western reformer has said he was assaulted by guards in prison and that he fears for his life.

International rights groups have condemned Mr Saakashvili's treatment and branded it political revenge.

Several opposition lawmakers have also been on hunger strike for days, demanding proper medical care for Mr Saakashvili, a call reiterated by the US and the European Court of Human Rights.

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