Mikheil Saakashvili appeared at the Tbilisi City Court facing a new case over his alleged role in the violent dispersal of a 2007 protest.

Saakashvili has insisted all the charges against him are politically motivated.
Saakashvili has insisted all the charges against him are politically motivated. (AFP)

Georgia police have arrested dozens of opposition supporters who rallied outside the court where ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili faced trial on abuse of office charges, which he has denounced as politically motivated.

On Monday, Saakashvili was seen sitting in a glass box in the courtroom, according to a short mobile phone video broadcast by independent Pirveli TV station.

More than 1,000 supporters rallied outside the court, waving Georgian and European Union flags and chanting his name.

It was Saakashvili's first courtroom appearance since the Caucasus country's top opposition leader was arrested on October 1 shortly after his return from exile. 

Georgia's president from 2004-2013, Saakashvili had refused food for 50 days to protest his prosecution.

Saakashvili called off the hunger strike when he was moved to a military hospital on November 20 after doctors warned he could soon die. 

READ MORE: Imprisoned Georgian ex-president's hunger strike caused neurological damage

Role in 2007 police crackdown

Monday's trial concerns Saakashvili's alleged role in a violent police crackdown on an opposition protest in 2007.

Saakashvili at the time admitted that police used excessive force against protesters, resigned and called snap presidential polls, which he subsequently won.

His lawyer Dito Sadzaglishvili said that Saakashvili "had no role whatsoever in ordering and planning the police operation."

"Prosecutors have failed to present any evidence of Saakashvili's wrongdoing."

Speaking in court, Saakashvili said he doesn't recognise the authority of the prosecutor's office and used the hearings to denounce the Georgian authorities.

He has insisted all the charges against him are politically motivated.

Amnesty International has condemned Saakashvili's treatment and branded it "not just selective justice but apparent political revenge."

In 2018, Saakashvili was sentenced in absentia to six years in prison on two counts of abuse of office and is facing two more trials on similar charges.

READ MORE: Tens of thousands demonstrate in Georgia for jailed Saakashvili

Source: TRTWorld and agencies