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Ex-Georgian defence minister released from custody in France pending trial

February 04, 2014, 0:20 UTC+3 PARIS
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PARIS, February 03, (ITAR-TASS). The Court of Appeal in the French city of Aix-en-Provence on Monday ruled to release from custody former Georgian Defence minister David Kezerashvili.

The Georgian politician suspected of crimes of corruption in his country is free till February 27 when the French court is to announce if he can be extradited. Kezerashvili will wear all the while an electronic bracelet so he could be tracked by law enforcers.

The former defence minister was detained in Nice on October 15 when about to fly to Albania. Kezerashvili was taken to Aix-en-Provence where the local judges decided to “hold him in custody with a view to possible extradition”. The trial was initially to have been held on January 23, but was postponed in connection with the request of the Georgian side about participation of its representatives.

On January 30, 2013, the Georgian investigative bodies charged the ex-minister in absentia with bribetaking and ethyl alcohol contraband. The bribes, supposedly, totaled 13 billion euro. In prosecutors' opinion, Kezerashvili’s illegal activity caused the Georgian state the damage of 50 million dollars.

Meanwhile, Kezerashvili’s lawyers assert that the Georgian authorities persecute their client for political reasons. French lawyer Ludovic Malmgren representing the interests of the Georgian state is convinced, however, that Kezerashvili’s case should really be heard in Georgia. “The reasoning that this is a political trial holds no water,” he said.

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