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26 Feb, 2008 14:19

Georgian tycoon's body returns home

The body of a Georgian opposition leader has arrived in the capital Tbilisi on Tuesday on a specially charted cargo plane. The family of Patarkatsishvili arrived earlier on a private jet.

Badri Patarkatsishvili, who also co-owned the independent Imedi TV-channel, died suddenly two weeks ago at his home in London, where he had spent most of his time recently. He was 52.

According to the tycoon's relatives, the funeral will take place at his home in two days time.

An autopsy revealed his sudden death was a result of heart disease, although his relatives say he was unaware of any problems and did not have any story of heart disease, but the damage to his heart was estimated as serious and he could had suffered a heart attack any moment.

Though a full toxicology report won't be available for almost two months, members of his family have not questioned the findings of the investigators.

The billionaire stood as a candidate in Georgia's recent presidential elections, which leads opposition activists to accuse the government of seeking to eliminate a rival.

“It’s clear that this was an act of terror. Whether it was chemicals or words – it doesn’t matter. He was killed in a very cruel way. I think it’s a great loss for Georgians and for Georgia,” said opposition leader Georgy Khaindrava.

Badri Patarkatsishvili was extremely influential, yet was a controversial figure in Georgian politics. He returned to Georgia in 2001 from Russia, where he was wanted for serious fraud charges. He acquired citizenship and immediately started a number of enterprises including Imedi TV, which turned out to be the most popular TV channel in Georgia.

Following violent unrest in November, the Georgian government accused Patarkatsishvili of trying to stage a coup. He was charged with plotting to overthrow the government, and he never returned to Georgia.