OREANDA-NEWS. New trial against ex-President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili has begun in Tbilisi. The first session in the Tbilisi City Court on Monday, November 15, began in the presence of lawyers, DW correspondent reports.

The Georgian Penitentiary Service again refused Saakashvili's presence at the court session, stating the need to ensure his safety and offering remote connection of the accused to the process. «The position of the authorities is clear, they are afraid of Mikhail Saakashvili's appearance in court. They are afraid of his public statements. This is a political process», said lawyer Dimitri Sadzaglishvili. Another lawyer of Bek Basilai, in a conversation with journalists, said that his client «really wants to participate in this process, but the authorities will most likely not allow it».

The prosecutor's office accuses Saakashvili of embezzling public funds in the amount of 9 million lari (about $3 million). The defense of the politician claims that it is a question of buying several suits and gifts for high-ranking representatives of foreign states who visited Georgia, and calls this process «a matter of jackets». The ruling Georgian Dream party claims that Saakashvili, when he was president of the country, discharged a masseuse from Germany and repeatedly flew with his entourage to different cities of the world for the weekend and calls this criminal case a «botox case».

Mikheil Saakashvili returned from Ukraine to Georgia on October 1 on the eve of local elections to mobilize his supporters, was detained and arrested, and then went on a hunger strike. Since then, protests in defense of the former president have continued in Tbilisi and other cities.