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Court Confirms Custody For Ex-Georgian Defense Officials

5 October 2005 -- A Tbilisi regional court today upheld a lower panel's decision to detain former Defense Ministry officials on charges of having signed a controversial weapons deal with Ukraine.

The three officials -- Davit Natroshvili, Mamuka Lomsadze, and Besarion Bukvaidze -- are accused of having purchased faulty armored vehicles from Ukraine in 2004. They were remanded in custody for three months on 23 September.

Prosecutors say that although the 40 vehicles were purchased in return for nearly $7 million, they proved unusable.

The defendants have said the vehicles were in perfect working order when they were delivered to the Georgian armed forces.

The deal was concluded when Giorgi Baramidze -- now in charge of overseeing Georgia's integration into European structures -- was still defense minister.

(compiled from local television and news reports)