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Former Georgian Defense Ministry Officials Jailed

TBILISI -- A Georgian court has sentenced five former Defense Ministry officials to seven years each on charges of financial mismanagement.

A Tbilisi city court on May 16 found the former officials guilty of misspending more than $1.8 million in an alleged sham tender in 2013 on the laying of fiber-optic cable and sentenced them the same day.

The Defense Ministry officials were arrested in October 2014, with four of them in office at the time of the arrests.

Defense Minister Irakli Alasania was fired shortly after the arrests and two of his allies resigned from their cabinet posts in protest.

Alasania's Free Democrats party left the ruling Georgian Dream coalition in November 2014.

Alasania said after the sentences were announced that he will organize mass street protests against the verdicts in the cases, which he denounced as being politically motivated.