Tbilisi (AFP) - A court in Georgia sentenced on Friday the country's former president Mikheil Saakashvili to three years in prison in absentia for abuse of power.
Saakashvili, who was president from 2004 to 2013, was found guilty of illegally pardoning four men who were convicted of the high profile murder of Georgian banker Sandro Girgvliani in 2006.
Girgvliani was found dead outside of the capital Tbilisi with multiple injuries after arguing in a bar with high-ranking interior ministry officials.
According to the judge, Saakashvili promised the then chief of Georgia's Constitutional Security Department to give the men pardons.
Saakashvili, who is now a politician in Ukraine, has called the case politically motivated and questioned the independence of the court.
"This is a revenge against me," he said at a press conference in Kiev.
Saakashvili accused Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, a former ally turned political foe, of orchestrating the case.
"I have not a single doubt that the decision of the Tbilisi court was dictated from Kiev to the Georgian authorities," he said. "I have no doubt that Poroshenko made a deal with (billionaire and former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina) Ivanishvili."
Last month Saakashvili also faced legal problems in Ukraine when police rearrested him in Kiev after an earlier attempt to detain him failed because supporters swarmed the van he was held in.
Saakashvili was released by a court after denying charges of trying to stage a coup sponsored by Russia, although he is still under investigation.
He has since continued leading protests outside parliament demanding Poroshenko's impeachment over his failure to fight high-level corruption.