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Georgian Court of Appeals Rules to Keep ex-PM in Custody

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A court of appeals in the West Georgian city of Kutaisi turned down an appeal from former Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili, charged with corruption and abuse of office, and ruled to keep him in custody.

TBILISI, May 26 (RIA Novosti) - A court of appeals in the West Georgian city of Kutaisi turned down an appeal from former Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili, charged with corruption and abuse of office, and ruled to keep him in custody.

“The court of appeals considered an appeal from Merabishili’s defense lawyers and ruled that the previous court’s ruling would remain in force,” the court’s press service said in a statement.

Merabishvili and former Labor, Health and Social Security Minister Zurab Chiaberashvili, who are considered key allies of embattled President Mikheil Saakashvili, were detained on Tuesday.

The court of Kutaisi ruled on Wednesday to put Merabishvili in custody, but released Chiaberashvili on bail of 20,000 lari ($13,000).

Both men have been accused of giving fictitious jobs to hundreds of United National Movement (UNM) activists who were involved in the party's parliamentary election campaign in 2012. They may face up to 12 years in prison if convicted.

Merabishvili, who leads Saakashvili's UNM, has also been accused of misappropriation of a luxurious private villa through intimidation of the owner.

 

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