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French Court Leaves Former Georgian Defense Minister In Custody

Former Georgian Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili
Former Georgian Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili
A court in the southern French city of Aix-en-Provence has rejected a plea by a former Georgian former defense minister to be set free.

In making the decision on October 31, however, the court did not rule on Davit Kezerashvili's possible extradition to Georgia.

Kezerashvili, a close ally of outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili, was detained last month at Nice Airport following the issuance of an international arrest warrant.

Investigators in Georgia say Kezerashvili is suspected of taking a $12 million bribe to facilitate alcohol smuggling in Georgia.

On October 28, a court in Tbilisi sentenced another Saakashvili ally -- former Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia -- to nearly four years in prison for abuse of office.

Several other Saakashvili associates are awaiting trial on various charges.

On October 27, Giorgi Margvelashvili, an ally of Saakashvili's rival, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, won the country's presidential election and will take office this month.

With reporting by AFP

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