By Ali Cura
Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship last year, once again applied for political asylum in Ukraine, according to a judicial source.
The District Administrative Court of Kiev said in a statement on Thursday that the Office of the State Migration Service of Ukraine had previously refused Saakashvili’s application for political asylum.
The claimant Saakashvili objected to the decision, saying it had no legal grounds, the statement said, adding that the next hearing would be held on Jan. 16.
The move comes after a Tbilisi court sentenced Saakashvili in absentia on Jan. 5 to three years in prison for abusing his powers (2004-2013) in a murder case of a Georgian banker, Sandro Girgvliani in 2006. Saakashvili was accused of trying to cover up the evidence pertaining to the murder.
Girgvliani, 28, who headed the foreign departments of United Georgian Bank, was found dead on Jan. 28, 2006 on the outskirts of the capital Tbilisi, after he was seen arguing in a bar with the high-ranking officials of the interior ministry.
Saakashvili had issued pardons for four people convicted of the murder, who were released in 2009 after three years of imprisonment.
Saakashvili opposed the court’s ruling, saying it was "unlawful".
After serving as president of Georgia for 10 years, Saakashvili was appointed as the governor of Ukraine's southern Odessa region by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in 2015 but he resigned the following year.
He then became an outspoken critic of the Ukrainian president and accused him of corruption.
Saakashvili was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship while in the U.S. earlier in 2017, rendering him stateless. However, in September he crossed into Ukraine from Poland with the help of his supporters.
His Georgian citizenship had already been revoked after getting a Ukrainian passport in 2015.
In 2014, former Georgian Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili was also sentenced to three years for abusing his powers.