Commenting on the latest charges filed against ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, involving allegations of misspending over GEL 8 million of public funds, PM Irakli Garibashvili said that time of “impunity” is over in Georgia.
Prosecutor’s office said on August 14 that it put Saakashvili on wanted list, a formal procedure after court ordered on August 2 ex-president’s pre-trial detention in absentia in connection with the charges of exceeding official authorities over November 7, 2007 events – one of those three separate charges brought against Saakashvili since late July.
Speaking with Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 TV from New York on August 14, Saakashvili said his prosecution and putting him on the wanted list aim at preventing him from returning back to Georgia and engaging actively in the political life in the country.
He strongly denied misspending charges and said that all the expenditures were made for the benefit of the country. Saakashvili said allegations about spending taxpayers’ money on visits to aesthetics clinics and cosmetic procedures – one of those many expenditures prosecutors consider to be illegal – were “utterly false.”
PM Garibashvili said that attempts by UNM and Saakashvili to justify lavish spending by the ex-president are “shameful.”
“He [Saakashvili] looked very anxious [in TV interview] and it reminded me his [August, 2008] war-time footage, when he was the most frightened,” PM Garibashvili told journalists on August 15.
“If in any country any leader thinks that those [spending] were normal, then we should not be speaking about democracy. These statements [by Saakashvili] were of a typical dictator. How can expenditures on massage and other spending in millions be considered as normal? That’s ruled out. Epoch of impunity is over in Georgia; everyone will be held responsible and everyone will be equal before the law,” Garibashvili said.
“This is shame that we had shameful President, who was spending people’s money, millions on luxury,” the PM said.
Asked if the authorities would request Interpol to issue ‘red notice’ for Saakashvili, PM Garibashvili responded that he’s not aware of details of legal procedures.
“Let’s wait. Prosecutor’s Office follows procedures professionally and doing everything that is envisaged by the law,” Garibashvili added.
In the case of red notices, Interpol’s role is to assist the national police forces in identifying and locating the persons concerned with a view to their arrest and extradition. But Interpol cannot demand individual nations make an arrest based on issued red notices.
Saakashvili’s defense lawyer, Otar Kakhidze, said that even if the Georgian authorities try to seek ex-president’s extradition, the case will crumble as it happened in case of ex-defense minister Davit Kezerashvili, when the court in France declined Georgia’s request to extradite him.