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Georgian Court Acquits Ex-Interior Minister of Hazing

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A court in the former Soviet republic of Georgia found a former interior minister not guilty Thursday of hazing police officers last year.

TBILISI, October 31 (RIA Novosti) – A court in the former Soviet republic of Georgia found a former interior minister not guilty Thursday of hazing police officers last year.

Bacho Akhalaia and several of his subordinates were cleared of charges of using violence against seven special forces police officers dismissed on the eve of Georgian parliamentary elections, allegedly for their pro-opposition political views, the Novosti Gruziya local news agency reported.

Akhalaia and his codefendants had been accused of beating the men, shooting above their heads and forcing them to fight each other, the report said.

On Monday, the politician, who previously oversaw Georgia’s prisons, was sentenced to almost four years in jail for his role in suppressing a prison riot in 2006. Akhalaia also served as defense minister under outgoing President Mikhail Saakashvili, who is to leave office in the coming weeks in the wake of elections held Sunday.

Akhalaia left Georgia in fall 2012 ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections, when Saakashvili’s party was defeated by the Georgian Dream coalition led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is currently serving as prime minister.

Akhalaia was arrested after returning to the capital, Tbilisi, later that year and accused of multiple crimes connected to his work in government.

He is still facing a separate trial on murder charges.

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