Saakashvili says he will not return to Georgia

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgia's former president, Mikhail Saakashvili, says he will not return to be questioned in the 2005 death of his prime minister and other cases.

Saakashvili left Georgia shortly after his second term ended in November.

Speaking on Georgian Rustavi 2 television on Sunday from the Netherlands, his wife's native country, Saakashvili said he would not obey the summons to appear Thursday for questioning. He said he had been advised to stay away by European politicians, who said his potential arrest could slow Georgia's integration with the European Union.

If Saakashvili doesn't appear, the new Georgian government said he would be placed on a wanted list.

Prosecutors have filed charges against several of Saakashvili's allies. His supporters see the criminal cases as political revenge.

The U.S. State Department on Sunday expressed its concerns about the case.

"No one is above the law, but launching multiple simultaneous investigations involving a former president raises legitimate concerns about political retribution, particularly when legal and judicial institutions are still fragile," said a statement released by deputy spokesperson Marie Harf.

"As discussed at the highest levels when Prime Minister (Irakli) Garibashvili visited Washington in February, the United States urges Georgia's leaders to focus the nation's energies on the future, a strong economy, continued reform of the justice sector, and rapid progress on Euro-Atlantic integration."