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French court turns down appeal to free former Georgian Defense Minister

December 05, 2013, 20:14 UTC+3 PARIS

Press service: considering the heinous character of the offenses Kezerashvili has been charged with, the court decided to deny the appeal

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© AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

PARIS, December 05. /ITAR-TASS/. Court of appeals in the French city of Aix-en-Provence on Thursday turned down an appeal on releasing from custody the former Defense Minister of Georgia, David Kezerashvili, who had been detained on Cote d’Azure, the press service of the court said.

Considering the heinous character of the offenses Kezerashvili has been charged with and a possibility of attempts on his part to evade justice, the court decided to deny the appeal,” it said.

This was a second time the appeal on freeing the former minister was turned down. The previous appeal was turned down by the same court October 31.

At present, the former minister is being kept in a jail in the vicinity of Aix-en-Provence.

Georgia is seeking Kezerashvili’s extradition on charges of taking bribes and conniving at the contraband of ethanol. Prosecution issued the charges in absentia to him January 30, 2013.

Georgian investigators say Kezerashvili, who occupied the position of the chief of the Finance Ministry’s financial police from 2004 through to 2006 and Defense Minister from 2006 through to 2008, helped two local businessmen to import ethanol to Georgia without payment of the customs fee and in the production of brandy out of it with violation of technology.

Kezerashvili’s illegal operations inflicted a damage of $ 50 million on the Georgian economy.

In 2008, he supposedly pressed Joseph Kay, the then owner of the controlling stake in the Imedi broadcasting company into signing the stake away to a different person. Along with it, the money was reimbursed to Kay on the basis of a fictitious deal.

The court has scheduled hearings on a possibility of Kezerashvili’s extradition to Georgia for January 23, 2014.

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