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Ex-Forestry Chief Sentenced to Prison in Absence
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 17 Jan.'07 / 16:51

The Tbilisi City Court sentenced Bidzina Giorgobiani to 6 years imprisonment in absentia for misuse of office while serving as chief of Georgia’s Forestry Department in 2004-2005.

Giorgobiani is reportedly in self-imposed exile in Germany since fleeing Georgia in March 2005. Giorgobiani accused Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili and officials from the security service of fabricating a criminal case against him after, as he claims, he managed to uncover a scheme through which top-level Interior Ministry officials were involved in the illegal export of Georgian lumber.

At the trial the court turned down an appeal by Giorgobiani’s attorney to question Nugzar Nachkebia, a former official from the state audit agency who claims to have “documented evidence” proving that the case has been fabricated against Giorgobiani.

During the parliamentary hearings on December 27 General Prosecutor Zurab Adeishvili told lawmakers that investigators had strong evidence to prove the criminal charges against Giorgobiani.

He also said that Giorgobiani “has left the country,” but did not specify whether or not Georgia will seek his extradition.

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