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Mikheil Saakashvili: Ex-Georgian President in danger of death, warn doctors

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By AFP  with Euronews
Mikheil Saakashvili was convicted of abuse of power during his presidency of Georgia.
Mikheil Saakashvili was convicted of abuse of power during his presidency of Georgia.   -   Copyright  Irakli Gedenidze/Pool Photo via AP

Georgia's former president Mikheil Saakashvili will die if he does not receive proper care, doctors warned on Friday.

Saakashvili has twice gone on hunger strike in recent months to protest against his imprisonment, weakening his health.

The 54-year-old refused to eat for 50 days and then for another 20 days after he was convicted of abuse of power. He denied the charges and says his imprisonment was political.

On Friday, a panel of independent doctors who examined Saakashvili in prison said he was suffering from a severe neurological disorder, as well as anorexia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

They have called for Saakashvili to be urgently transferred to a hospital where he will no longer be subjected to "stress factors".

Doctors warn that the former President could otherwise develop neurological complications that could cause multi-organ dysfunction and lead to a "fatal outcome".

Georgian authorities have so far dismissed medical concerns about Saakashvili that have been raised by doctors and his supporters.

The leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Irakli Kobakhidze, has claimed that Saakashvili "is not happy with the decline in his standard of living since he has been imprisoned".

"He just needs to eat some eggs and fresh cheese, and everything will be fine," Kobakhidze added.

Saakashvili -- who led Georgia from 2004 to 2013 -- was arrested and jailed in October 2021 on his return to the country after years in exile.

His arrest exacerbated a political crisis in Georgia that erupted after parliamentary elections in 2020, which were narrowly won by the ruling party narrowly amid claims of fraud by the opposition.

Saakashvili ended his most recent hunger strike in March, stating that he and his supporters needed to be prepared amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Georgia, which borders Russia and also has ambitions to join the EU and NATO, was the victim of a Russian military offensive in 2008.