A court in Paris has released former Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili from police custody, Eka Beselia, his lawyer and party activist, said on January 30.
According to the Georgian General Prosecutor’s Office, Okruashvili, although released, has been placed under house arrest pending his extradition hearing on February 27. Okruashvili, according to the Georgian General Prosecutor’s Office, must appear at the local police station in Paris twice a week.
Okruashvili was arrested in Germany in late November following a Georgian request for his extradition. Earlier this month German authorities transferred Okruashvili to France where he was placed in police custody. The move came after Germany turned Okruashvili’s asylum request over to France, because it was the French embassy in Tbilisi that had issued Okruashvili with a Schengen visa allowing him access to the European Union.
Okruashvili launched an opposition party on September 25 but he was arrested two days later and charged with large-scale bribery through extortion, money laundering and negligence while serving as minister. Later, he was released on GEL 10 million bail. On November 1, Okruashvili, according to the General Prosecutor’s Office, was allowed to travel to Germany “for medical treatment.” Okruashvili, however, subsequently alleged that he had been forced onto the plane and sent to Germany against his will.
Mikheil Saakashvili said recently that Okruashvili, once his closest political associate, was his “biggest mistake.”