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28 Mar, 2008 05:20

11 years jail for Georgian ex-minister

The self-exiled former Georgian minister, Irakli Okruashvili has been found guilty of receiving bribes and sentenced to eleven years in prison. The court made the decision in absentia as Okruashvili is currently in France, where he’s asked for political a

Initially the prosecutor demanded 13 years jail.

Okruashvili is also facing charges of negligence, abuse of office and money laundering.
State-appointed defence lawyers requested the dismissal of all charges.
Okruashvili’s personal lawyer has refused to enter the court room, saying the total case is a miscarriage of justice.

Okruashvili claims the charges are fabricated and politically motivated.

The preliminary decision on whether he will be granted political asylum will be made in mid-April. If it is not in his favour, he will be sent back to Georgia.

Troubled times

Irakli Okruashvili was arrested in September 2007, which sparked mass protest in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. Opposition supported his claim of a politically motivated case.

The former minister was then released on bail and went to Germany for medical treatment.

In November last year he was arrested in Berlin and in January 2008 he moved to France since it had issued his Schengen visa.

Okruashvili was released after a French family guaranteed his bail.

Since he never returned from Europe, court hearings in Georgia were held in absentia.