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Former Georgian Defense Minister Acquitted Of Torture Charges

Former Georgian Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia
Former Georgian Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia
TBILISI -- A Georgian court has acquitted a former defense minister of charges involving the torture and inhuman treatment of seven special forces soldiers.

Bacho Akhalaia, an ally of outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili, and seven co-defenders were acquitted by the Tbilisi City court on October 31.

On October 28, the same court sentenced Akhalaia to nearly four years in prison for abuse of office for using excessive force in suppressing a 2006 prison riot in which seven inmates were killed.

The prison term was the first imposed on a Saakashvili ally, a number of whom are awaiting trial.

Akhalaia's lawyer said on October 30 that his client will ask Saakashvili for a pardon before he leaves office next month.

On October 27, Giorgi Margvelashvili, an ally of Saakashvili's rival, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, won the presidential election.