French court refuses to extradite Georgian former defense minister
Tbilisi, Georgia, Feb. 27
By Nana Kirtzkhalia - Trend:
The Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal refused to extradite Georgia's former Defense Minister David Kezerashvili on Feb. 27.
Kezerashvili told journalists that he has been freed and will be able to leave France. The court took into account the possibility of Kezerashvili's political persecution by the Georgian justice system and therefore decided not to extradite him to Georgia, according to the former defense minister.
The Georgian side refused to make an appeal against the decision of the Aix-en-Provence Court, so this is the final decision.
On Feb.3, the court granted the request of lawyers for the release of Kezerashvili from custody.
Kezerashvili was detained in mid-October 2013 at Nice airport while trying to fly to Albania.
On Jan.30, 2013, Georgia's investigating authorities indicted the former minister in absentia for taking large bribes and facilitating the smuggling of ethanol.
Kezerashvili, who served as the head of financial police of the Finance Ministry (2004-2006) and defense minister (2006-2008) was accused by the Georgian's of assisting two businessmen during this period in the importation of ethanol to Georgia with no payment of customs duty and production of cognac alcohol in violation of production technology.
As a result of Kezerashvili's alleged illegal activity, damage to the state amounted to $50 million, according to the prosecution.
Translated by L.Z.
Edited by C.N.