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Former Georgian Defense Minister's 11-Year Jail Sentence Overturned

Former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili (center) sits in a Tbilisi court in December 2012.
TBILISI -- A court of appeals in Tbilisi has overturned an 11-year prison sentence imposed on former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili.

He received the sentence in 2008 after being tried in absentia and convicted of accepting a bribe.

Okruashvili had denied the charge and left Georgia in 2007 to avoid the trial.

He was arrested in November 2012 when he arrived in Tbilisi after spending five years in Europe.

On January 8, the Georgian Prosecutor-General's Office announced that recently filed charges of abuse of office and illegal business activities had been dropped.

Okruashvili remains in custody and still faces two other charges -- the formation of an illegal armed group and negligence.

Okruashvili returned to Georgia days after the country's new government launched investigations against a number of former Interior Ministry officials.