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France Rules Not To Extradite Georgian Ex-Minister

Former Georgian Defense Minister David Kezerashvili (left) embraces his wife, Sophia, as he leaves a prison in Marseille on February 3.
A French court has ruled not to extradite former Georgian Defense Minister David Kezerashvili.

Kezerashvili's lawyer, Shota Mindeli, said the court in Aix-en-Provence also ordered on February 27 that an electronic bracelet used to monitor Kezerashvili's movements must be removed.

Kezerashvili was released on bail earlier this month. He was arrested in France in October on a weapons-trafficking charge.

Investigators in Georgia say Kezerashvili is suspected of money laundering, illegal property sales in Tbilisi, and taking a $12 million bribe to facilitate alcohol smuggling in Georgia.

Kezerashvili is a close associate of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

A number of investigations were launched against officials representing Saakashvili's United National Movement party after it lost parliamentary elections in October 2012 to the Georgian Dream political alliance.

Based on reporting by Interfax, and