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Tbilisi court orders pre-trial detention for ex-Georgian President Saakashvili

A court in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi ruled late on Friday night to issue a pre-trial detention term for former President Mikhail Saakashvili for the duration of an investigation against him on power abuse charges.

The Georgian Main Prosecutor's Office formally pushed on Monday charges of abuse of office against Saakashvili, who is currently reported to be staying in New York. Prosecutors later submitted a motion with the Tbilisi Municipal Court to put Saakashvili under detention.

"In recent months Saakashvili repeatedly ignored Main Prosecutor Office's calls to appear as a witness in a number of important court trials and then refused distant questioning via Skype," a spokesman for the Prosecutor's Office said after late Friday court's hearings adding that the ruling was "substantiated and just."

Saakashvili's lawyer Otari Kokhidze said, however, that the court's ruling was "ungrounded" and that the defense of the former Georgian president would appeal the decision in higher court establishments.

Georgia's Main Prosecutor's Office announced in March that Saakashvili had been summoned as a witness over a number of cases, in particular, over the case of the death of Georgian prime minister Zurab Zhvania, the case of a special operation to suppress the rebellion of a battalion of Georgia's armed forces in Mukhrovani in 2009, illegal actions against the family of businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili and other cases.

Saakashvili was earlier reported to be mostly staying in Ukraine, where he allegedly worked since the beginning of the year as an unofficial adviser to the Ukrainian government.

On Wednesday he spoke with Georgia's Rustavi-2 television channel from Hungary's Budapest and called prosecutors' investigation against him as biased.

"Someone is obviously dismayed by my current activity in connection with events in Ukraine," Saakashvili said adding that he did not plan to wrap up his current political activities.

"I recently visited Albania and now I am in Hungary at Prime Minister Victor Orban's invitation and I plan visiting a number of other countries as well in the near future," Saakashvili said. "I am not seeking any political asylums as I do not need this."

On Friday, in another interview with Rustavi-2, but this time from New York, Saakashvili said he had no intentions of cooperating with the Georgian investigative authorities and appearing for questioning.

[Source: Itar Tass, Tbilisi, 02Aug14]

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