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Prosecutors: Saakashvili ‘sneaked into Georgia in milk trailer’

20 October 2021
Georgian prosecutors say former President Mikheil Saakashvili was smuggled into Georgia on board the Vilinus. Photo: Ahmet Ünlügil.

Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office has released details of their ongoing investigation into how former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili entered the country.

The Prosecutor’s Office said Saakashvili illegally entered the country on the night of 28–29 September in the Vilnius, a cargo and passenger ferry ship travelling from Ukraine. 

According to the investigation, Georgia’s third and fugitive president was hiding in a Scania trailer transporting dairy products before moving into the lorry’s passenger seat before crossing the border.

The Prosecutor’s Office claimed that Saakashvili was later met by several co-conspirators in a Mercedes who transported him to Tkviri, a village in the western Georgian region of Samegrelo.

A spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office said Saakashvili briefly returned to Batumi on 29 September, suggesting that footage of him strolling through the centre of Batumi that he published on 1 October could be authentic. 

According to the investigation, Saakashvili departed for Tbilisi on 29 September, arriving in the capital before sunset and staying in the flat where he was eventually apprehended on 1 October. 

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office claimed that they had established the ‘precise’ route of Saakashvili’s movement in Georgia and have requested additional information from the Ukrainian authorities. 

Four individuals implicated in helping Saakashvili also face charges.

Saakashvili, who is on hunger strike protesting his detention, is expected to be charged with illegal border crossing today.

He already faces six years in prison after being convicted in absentia in 2018 on several counts of abuse of power, including ordering an attack on political opponent Valeri Gelashvili and illegally promising to pardon law enforcement officers implicated in the 2006 murder of Sandro Girgvliani.

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