Court has ruled in favor of prosecution’s motion and impounded property of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili and his family members in Georgia ranging from vineyard and countryside house to old car.
Saakashvili is wanted in Georgia for charges of misspending and exceeding official authorities in several separate cases, which he denies as politically motivated.
The ruling to impound the property was issued by the Tbilisi City Court on August 29 and then upheld by the Court of Appeals earlier this month.
Saakashvili’s lawyer, Otar Kakhidze, who announced about impoundment of his client’s property on September 19, said court’s ruling was legally “absurd”, “completely groundless” and continuation of politically motivated persecution against the former president.
“Not only my property, but the entire Georgia is impounded by [the current authorities]; they halted all the [development] processes in Georgia,” Saakashvili said on September 19 speaking to Rustavi 2 TV from New York.
The property that was impounded, according to the list released by the prosecutor’s office, includes Saakashvili’s plot of land, mainly vineyard, with total area of 1.9 hectares in Kvareli, eastern Georgian region of Kakheti, and a 97 square meter house located on that plot of land, as well as an old Honda Accord.
Other property includes: flat in Tbilisi, owned by Saakashvili’s wife Sandra Roelofs; 1,900 square meter plot of land in Kvareli and a flat in Batumi, owned by Saakashvili’s mother Giuli Alasania; a flat in Tbilisi, 500 square meter plot of land in Natanebi, western Georgian region of Guria, and Toyota RAV4, owned by Saakashvili’s grandmother Mzia Tsereteli; Toyota Land Cruiser LC200, owned by Saakashvili father, Nikoloz Saakashvili.
Prosecutor’s office said in a statement on September 19 that impounding of property of Saakashvili and his family members was part of legal proceedings against the ex-president in connection to criminal charges stemming from alleged misspending of GEL 8.83 million (about USD 5.1 million) of public funds between September, 2009 and February, 2013.
“Since accused Mikheil Saakashvili avoids [to cooperate with] the investigation, there was a justified assumption that he could have alienated or otherwise hidden his property and the property registered on persons linked to him for the purpose of avoiding possible material responsibility, which would have obstructed reimbursement of damages inflicted to the state,” prosecutor’s office said in the statement.
PM Irakli Garibashvili said when asked about impounding of Saakashvili’s property: “Very good if it has been impounded.”
“Saakashvili is an exhibit of the past; I don’t want to talk about him,” Garibashvili told journalists in Gardabani, where he attended groundbreaking ceremony of a greenhouse tomato farm, which is a joint project of French greenhouse manufacturer Richel Group and Georgian Co-Investment Fund.
Saakashvili told Rustavi 2 TV that impounding of his property is not a main problem. Referring to ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, he said that the main problem is that “oligarch” rules the country, which is destroying very “pillar of the statehood.”
“Georgia is ruled by one illiterate, gangsterish… oligarch with ugly spirit, who sits in his enormous hilltop palace [in Tbilisi] and takes all the decisions,” Saakashvili said.