Georgian rebel minister faces court cliffhanger

The lawyer of Georgia's former Defence minister and opposition leader Irakly Okruashvili claims he’s a victim of political repression. Okruashvili was arrested in Berlin on Tuesday following a request from Georgia.

His lawyer is preparing documents for a Berlin court, which will decide if Okruashvili is extradited to Georgia.

A diplomatic scandal regarding Okruashvili's extradition is expected between the two countries. Georgia wants him back from Germany to serve out his sentence at home. But Okruashvili had earlier applied for political asylum in Germany.

He'd been charged with four crimes including money laundering. In the next forty days Germany has to decide whether to extradite him or not, after considering the documents submitted by the sides.

Georgian Prosecutors believe they have a very strong case against him – Okruashvili had already pleaded guilty to some of the charges. But now his lawyers say that was a confession extracted under pressure.

Okruashvili's lawyer, Ekaterina Beselia, said the documents she's preparing to send to Germany certify that he's a ‘political prisoner’ and needs to be treated as one.

A rebel minister

Okruashvili had been the Defence minister in 2005-2006 and for many years a faithful ally of now former president Mikhail Saakashvili.

He dramatically returned to politics in September with accusations of corruption by his former ally Saakashvili. Next Okruashvili was arrested, only to appear on Georgian television with a guilty plea and be released on a $US 6-million bail.

He then left for Germany allegedly to receive medical treatment.

When the former Minister failed to show up at the preliminary court hearings in Tbilisi, an international warrant was issued for his arrest.