Saakashvili was transferred to a military hospital after he collapsed and lost consciousness due to a prolonged hunger strike

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is suffering neurological problems after more than seven weeks on hunger strike.
Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is suffering neurological problems after more than seven weeks on hunger strike. (AP)

Georgia's jailed opposition leader and ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili has ended a seven-week hunger strike that caused him neurological damage.

The flamboyant pro-Western reformer launched a hunger strike after being jailed upon his return from exile in Ukraine on October 1, claiming his arrest was politically-motivated.

On Thursday, Saakashvili, 53, fainted and doctors urged authorities to move him to a regular clinic, saying his life was in danger. Dr. Giorgi Grigolia, who had seen Saakashvili on Thursday, told AFP that his condition was "life threatening" and that "he must be moved to a civilian clinic without delay." 

He cited a number of neurological and heart conditions that "could become irreversible, fatal without proper care, which is impossible in the medical facility" where he was being treated at the time.

Georgian authorities initially rejected the medical recommendations, but Justice Minister Rati Bregadze said on Friday they were open to moving Saakashvili to a military hospital "where his health and security will be protected most by the state." In the early hours of Saturday, Saakashvili "was transferred from a prison hospital to a military clinic" in the city of Gori, some 90 kilometres west of the capital Tbilisi, his lawyer Dito Sadzaglishvili told AFP.

"He still is in a life-threatening condition and was placed in an intensive care ward," his personal doctor, Nokoloz Kipshidze told AFP, adding that Saakashvili's "refeeding will begin later on Saturday."

READ MORE: Thousands march in support of Georgia's jailed ex-leader Saakashvili

'Illegal imprisonment'

"I will never accept my illegal imprisonment," Saakashvili said on Facebook on Friday evening, adding that he was ready to "appear before a fair trial and accept any verdict it delivers."

In 2018, Saakashvili was sentenced in absentia to six years in jail for "abuse of office", charges he had rejected as trumped up and politically motivated.

READ MORE: Georgia arrests ex-president Saakashvili after return from exile

The United States Department of State has urged Georgian authorities to "treat Mr. Saakashvili fairly and with dignity, including the right to fair trial."

"As soon as I am set free, I'll join you—as equal among equals—in rebuilding our country," Saakashvili wrote in an address to the nation.

He thanked Georgians for the "unbelievable show of solidarity and humanity" and called for a campaign "to liberate the country" from the rule of oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream party.

His supporters have repeatedly held protests, including one outside the parliament in the capital Tbilisi on Friday, denouncing Saakashvili's arrest and calling for him to be given better treatment.

READ MORE: Tens of thousands demonstrate in Georgia for jailed Saakashvili

Source: TRTWorld and agencies