TBILISI, Georgia (AP) – The imprisoned former president of the former Soviet republic of Georgia appeared in court on Monday on charges of abuse of power, proceedings that sparked clashes between his supporters and the police.
Mikheil Saakashvili, who served as president in 2008-13, left Georgia for Ukraine after his second term ended and was later found guilty in absentia of abuse of power and sentenced to six years in prison. He was arrested on October 1 after returning to Georgia in an attempt to bolster opposition forces ahead of national municipal elections.
Saakashvili went on a seven-week hunger strike after his arrest, ending it on November 19 after authorities agreed to transfer him from a prison clinic to a military hospital. His lawyers and doctors said it caused him neurological damage.
Monday’s hearings at Tbilisi City Court on a new case against Saakashvili for the violent dispersal of a 2007 protest marked Saakashvili’s first public appearance since his arrest.
Speaking in court, Saakashvili said he did not recognize the authority of the prosecutor’s office and used the hearings to denounce the Georgian authorities.
Political cartoons about world leaders
“The whole world is amazed that I am speaking to you through this glass wall instead of walking freely in the country I have built,” the former president said during the hearing.
Saakashvili also faces charges related to the raid on television company Imedi and the seizure of property from its owner, the late businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili.
Police arrested several people on Monday in clashes between supporters and Saakashvili officers.
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