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Okruashvili's lawyer denies claims he's left Georgia

Georgia's former Defence Minister Irakly Okruashvili has not fled the country and is still in Tbilisi. according to his lawyer. Previous reports said he and his family had left Georgia shortly after a $ US 6 million bail fee was paid off securing his rel

Irakly Okruashvili was released from custody in the early hours of Tuesday’s morning and taken to his home in Tbilisi.  He refused to talk to journalists as he arrived home.   

It is not known who paid the $US 6 million Mr Okruashvili's bail fee.

The former political ally of President Saakashvili is said to be with his family at their home in the capital. They have met with Mr Okruashvili’s lawyer Eka Beselia.

“He never fled anywhere, I have spoken to him.  Later I will make another public announcement, but just one thing – he didn't seem quite himself.  He confirmed I will remain his lawyer. He says he does not know who provided bail money for him,” Ms Beselia stated.   

News of the sudden departure was made by the Georgian Imedi TV-channel.  That's owned by media mogul Badri Patarkatsishvili, the man that Okruashvili earlier accused President Saakashvili of plotting to kill. The reports referred to Okruashvili’s bodyguards.   

Mr Okruashvili admitted his claims were made for political purposes.

“During the interrogation, Okruashvili has partially admitted his guilt. He has fully admitted his guilt regarding the charges of extortion and negligence,” Nika Gvaravia, Deputy Prosecutor General, stated.

As for the Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvili says the case has proved a test for the country's legal system. He made the comments while at a conference in the Danish Capital Copenhagen.

Mr Saakashvili insisted the affair was resolved in a civilised and democratic way in accordance with European legislative norms.
He also noted that fighting corruption is a high priority for the Georgian government.

Meanwhile, according to a local news agency, the world’s richest Georgian and a critic of the government, Badri Patarkatsishvili, left the country soon after Okruashvili pleaded guilty to a string of offenses.

However, the businessman claims:

“I had a pre-planned arrangement to meet with my U.S. partners in London a long time ago. I learnt about Okruashvili's statement when I was aboard an aircraft. I am glad that Okruashvili is free. It was depressing to hear his statements from prison. I now hope he will have the opportunity to say things as they are.”

It also emerged on Tuesday that Badri Patarkatsishvili has had his powers suspended as the President of Georgia's National Olympic Committee.

And on MOnday, one of the leaders of the ruling United National Movement party said the former Defence Minister had been colluding with the businessman in an attempt to plot a coup.

However, Georgian opposition leaders said Irakly Okruashvili made the admission under severe pressure.

Badri Patarkatsishvili
Badri Patarkatsishvili

Irakly Okruashvili was arrested in late September, two days after launching an opposition party and accusing President Saakashvili of a string of crimes, including plotting to kill  Badri Patarkatsishvili. On Monday, he said he made those allegations solely to reap political dividends.
“I had meetings with Badri Patarkatsishvili both in Tbilisi and abroad. My statement about his liquidation was motivated to gain political dividends for him,” said Irakly Okruashvili.

Meanwhile, the Russian Echo Moskvy radio station has reported that Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili has arrived in London. The businessman is known as one of the closest allies of the exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky who is currently living in the British capital. 
Following Okruashvili’s arrest, Georgia’s fractious opposition parties managed to unite to condemn his detention and call for early elections. They say that Okruashvili’s shock announcement changes nothing.
“The struggle for our freedom will carry on. No repression, no governmental actions will be able to stop the people’s protest,” said Okruashvili’s supporter Koka Guntsadze.

The ex-Defence Minister’s legal team seems to have been as taken aback as any by Okruashvili’s statement. Eka Beselia, Okruashvili’s defence lawyer, questions the legality of the process.

Okruashvili’s interrogation should have been carried out in my presence. They have violated the law. Why did the interrogation take place in the presence of a lawyer appointed by the state? I don’t know, but I know they have no right to do this,

Eka Beselia, Okruashvili’s defence lawyer

“Okruashvili’s interrogation should have been carried out in my presence. They have violated the law. Why did the interrogation take place in the presence of a lawyer appointed by the state? I don’t know, but I know they have no right to do this,” she stressed.

The latest turn of events have taken everyone by surprise, and as politicians from both the government and opposition plan their next moves, it is difficult to assess what impact it will have.

To read the background of Irakly Okruashvili's arrest please followthe link.