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Georgia's Shevardnadze To Be Given Immunity

Tbilisi, 20 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The administration of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said today the government will shortly submit a bill to parliament guaranteeing the immunity from prosecution of Saakashvili's predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze.

The presidency gave the assurances in a brief statement today hours after police detained Shevardnadze's son-in-law as he was preparing to leave the country.

Police detained Gia Djokhtaberidze, saying he had ignored an order by the prosecutor's office to not leave Georgia pending an outcome of an investigation into tax evasion charges. Djokhtaberidze is a shareholder in Magticom, Georgia's biggest cellular communications company.

The presidency's statement said Shevardnadze "will not suffer the fate" of his son-in-law.

Saakashvili led opposition protests that toppled Shevardnadze last November. He has pledged to crack down on corruption.