Pro-Western former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili 'close to death' after alleged prison poisoning

Pro-Western former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili
# 12 March 2023 23:38 (UTC +04:00)

The former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili has told Sky News he is approaching death in the hospital he has been moved to from jail, APA reports.

In a moment of rare media access, the former leader also delivered a warning to the people of Georgia after days of protests had swept through the country.

An appeal trial last month heard claims from an independent expert that Mr Saakashvili had been poisoned while in jail.

Georgian authorities reject that possibility, and will not let him be transferred for treatment in Europe.

Sky News was denied access to the hospital but was able to pass Mr Saakashvili questions via his lawyer, and receive handwritten responses in reply.

Asked how close to death he was, Mr Saakashvili said: "I was initially 120 kilogrammes, now I am 64, if I become less than 60 doctors predict multiple organ failure."

As for his health, he said: "I am in bed all the time, my bones are disintegrating and it gives excruciating pain."

His lawyer Shalva Khachapuridze said his client's condition is worsening every day.

"It's an awful scene," Mr Khachapuridze told Sky News. "He looks like a prisoner in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany."

Mr Saakashvili sent a message to the thousands of demonstrators who have been on the streets protesting proposed new laws criticised as pro-Russian.

"Stay very vigilant, be ready to mobilise at short notice, because of the vengeful mood of the oligarchs' regime," he wrote in his correspondence with Sky News.