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Arsenic found in body of jailed ex-Georgian president – lawyer – Reuters

Mikhail Saakashvili’s state of health reportedly deteriorated seriously during his detention

Fingernail clippings taken from jailed former Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili have tested positive for arsenic, his lawyer has claimed ahead of a hearing involving his client. Supporters of the ex-leader claimed he was seriously ill and had toxic heavy metals in his body.

Shalva Khachapuridze, who represents Saakashvili, said on Monday that the toxicology test results of his client’s samples would be available later in the day. The presence of the poisonous element was confirmed to him in a phone call, he told reporters on Monday, according to private TV channel Mtavari Arkhi.

Saakashvili snuck into Georgia in 2021 ahead of municipal elections, despite facing the risk of being arrested and prosecuted on various charges. At the time, he had already been convicted in absentia on some of the charges, while others were still pending. He is due in court on Friday for the most recent alleged transgression – an illegal crossing of the national border, Khachapuridze said.

The lawyer said his client would probably have to use a wheelchair to attend the proceedings because he can no longer walk properly.

Saakashvili’s supporters have previously claimed that his condition deteriorated significantly in Georgian custody. He was reportedly diagnosed with at least 17 illnesses, including tuberculosis and dementia.

Earlier in November, a doctor with a Georgia-based NGO claimed hair samples taken from Saakashvili showed traces of mercury and two other heavy metals, which she believed were evidence of possible poisoning .

The claim was supported by the politician’s mother, but Saakashvili himself stressed in a statement posted on social media that he was not making any allegations of foul play. The Georgian Ministry of Justice responded by asking the national forensic office to examine the high-level detainee.

Saakashvili’s health is expected to be mentioned in an upcoming European Parliament (EP) report on progress in implementing the 2014 Association Agreement with Georgia. The document could link the granting of candidate status to the country with the release of the former president, according to amendments adopted this month by the EP Foreign Affairs Committee.

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The country’s ruling party, Georgian Dream, played down pressure from the EU. Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, who is also the general secretary of the party, claimed that the content of the draft report was “is worthless,” because he understood misinterpretations of what was happening in Georgian politics.

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