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10 Sep, 2008 13:42

France won't extradite former Georgian defence minister

The Paris Appeal Court has rejected a Georgian request to extradite the country's former Defence Minister Irakly Okruashvili, former ally, turned critic of President Saakashvili. He is wanted in Georgia where he has been sentenced in absentia to 11 years

The court also lifted previously imposed travel restrictions.

Police arrested the Georgian rebel minister in 2007, just days after he accused the current Georgian government of corruption. He was later released on bail and he left for Europe. France granted him asylum in April.

The former minister claimed in September, 2008, he had evidence of numerous crimes committed by the current Georgian authorities. He alleged that Saakashvili had ordered him to kill Georgian businessman, Badri Patarkatsishvili.

Okruashvili spoke of ‘daily repressions, destruction of homes and churches, killings’ and said that all those things made Georgians afraid to protest against the government.

He also accused the Georgian President of faking the country's anti-corruption campaign, saying he was told to release one of Saakashvilli's relatives, who had been arrested for taking a $US 200,000 bribe.

The case triggered angry demonstrations in Tbilisi, and lead to accusations that the goverment was trying to censor and suppress all legitimate forms of political opposition.

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