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Former Georgian PM Sentenced Again

Former Georgian Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili
Former Georgian Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili

TBILISI -- Former Georgian Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili has been found guilty of yet another crime and sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.

The Tbilisi City Court found Merabishvili guilty on September 22 of ordering the beating of lawmaker Valery Gelashvili in 2005.

Two other defendants in the case, Erekle Kodua and Georgi Siradze, who are former Interior Ministry officials, were also found guilty and sentenced in absentia to nine years in jail.

Merabishvili, 48, was a key figure in the 2003 Rose Revolution and served for more than seven years as Georgia's interior minister.

An ally of former President Mikheil Saakashvili, Merabishvili was sentenced to prison terms in different trials in 2014.

Merabishvili is currently serving a multiyear term in prison for abuse of office and bribing voters.

Saakashvili, who is currently the governor of Ukraine's Odesa region, is being investigated separately in the case.

Supporters of Merabishvili and Saakashvili have termed the charges against the two men as being politically motivated and part of a "witch hunt" by the current government.

In June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the detention of Merabishvili was being used by Georgian officials for other motives, a violation of the European Convention of Human Rights.

With reporting by Interfax

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