Prosecutor's Office offers Saakashvili questioning via Skype

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Chief Prosecutor's Office of Georgia offered former President, Mikheil Saakashvili to interrogate him remotely with the use of technical means, including Skype as one of possible options. The Prosecutor's Office said in a statement on 27 March that the offer will be officially sent to the former President. Saakashvili will then have a week's term to accept or decline the offer. "Consequently, the grounds of his concerns arise out of the possible detention will be entirely excluded. This offer will be served on him upon the manner established by law," the Prosecutor's Office said.

"Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia considers reasonable to provide explanation on summon of Mikheil Saakashvili in the capacity of witness. Specifically, Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia released information related to all criminal cases within the scope of which the investigation faces necessity to interrogate the Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. The complete list of criminal cases and the relevant information has been released with the aim of informing society and the person to be interrogated to the fullest extent. Since 2013, Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia proactively works on these criminal cases and a number of investigative actions are conducted thereon including the interrogation of witnesses, different examinations are undergoing, evidence are seized and the investigation is pending intensively on the criminal cases. Having taken into consideration the status of Mikheil Saakashvili, the mentioned investigations fall within the competence of Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia and therefore coordinated by our Office. Since he is the Former President of Georgia, in order to avoid the systemic summons in the capacity of witness, it was decided to inform Mikheil Saakashvili simultaneously regarding the necessity of his interrogation on the important and high profile criminal cases," the statement posted on the Chief Prosecutor's official website reads.

"The Former President of Georgia in his public speech conversed about the threat of his possible detention due to which he abstains to arrive in Georgia. Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia emphasizes that summon of Mikheil Saakashvili in the capacity of witness at this stage of investigation aims at receiving his explanations which will further ensure the comprehensive investigation. Thus, his summon should not be interpreted as the initiation of criminal proceedings against him and his further detention. As for the criminal cases, the investigation is underway and if the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia determines that the crime has been committed by any person the response will be relevant," the statement says "Having taken into account, the high importance of the cases being under investigation, the interest of the international community in current democratic developments in our country, the political status of Mikheil Saakashvili as the Former President as well as the utmost importance of his testimonies for successful completion of the investigation however, being the most informed witness, Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia offers Mikheil Saakashvili distance interrogation with the use of technical means (for example – Skype). In this case, his arrival in Georgia appears unnecessary. Consequently, the grounds of his concerns arisen out of the possible detention will be entirely excluded. This offer will be served on him upon the manner established by the law. He will further be provided with a week term to express hisopinion regarding the distance interrogation."

The Chief Prosecutor's Office summoned former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili for questioning as a witness on 22 March. According to the Prosecutor's Office, Saakashvili has been summoned in relation to several cases, including the cases of Sandro Girgvliani and Zurab Zhvania. The Prosecutor's Office said the former President had to appear for the questioning in the capacity of witness on March 27, at 13.00.

Saakashvili responded to the Prosecutor's Office announcement on 22 March, saying "I will arrive to Georgia not to make Putin's dreams come true, but rather to free Georgia of the performer of Putin's orders," adding he is "not going to play Ivanishvili-Putin games."

The US State Department issued a statement on 23 March, following the announcement of the Prosecutor's office of Georgia, saying the United States is "concerned by the decision of Georgian authorities to call former President Saakashvili for questioning in multiple criminal investigations."

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