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Closing Arguments Made In Tbilisi At Saakashvili's Trial In Absentia

Mikheil Saakashvili attends a court hearing in Kyiv on January 3.

TBILISI -- Closing arguments have been made in a Tbilisi court at the trial in absentia of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who faces charges connected to a 2006 murder case.

Judge Giorgi Arevadze announced on January 3 that the final hearing had been completed. He recessed the court before issuing his ruling.

Saakashvili, who now resides in Kyiv, has been charged with "abuse of power" and accused of trying to cover up evidence about the murder of Georgian banker Sandro Girgvliani.

Saakashvili is also charged with abusing his presidential powers by issuing pardons for four men who were convicted in 2006 of murdering Girgvliani.

Girgvliani, who headed the foreign department of United Georgian Bank, was found dead in January 2006 outside of Tbilisi with multiple injuries after he was seen arguing in a bar with high-ranking Interior Ministry officials.

Saakashvili was the president of Georgia at the time.

Girgvliani's murder, and the unwillingness of the authorities to investigate his death, resulted in harsh criticism of Saakashvili's government.

Prosecutors now accuse Saakashvili and other former Georgian officials of being accomplices in the falsification of evidence related to the case.

Saakashvili rejects the charges as politically motivated.

Saakashvili's government-appointed lawyer, Sofio Goglichidze, asked in her closing arguments on January 3 for the court to acquit Saakashvili.