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Sokhumi Releases Georgian Prisoner
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 10 Sep.'10 / 12:06

In EU-brokered deal authorities in breakaway Abkhazia released a Georgian army veteran who spent 19 months in Abkhaz jail.

Malkhaz Kordzaia was handed over to EU’s special representative for South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, in Sokhumi and then escorted by EU diplomats over the administrative border on the Georgian-controlled territory.

"Any step of this kind is an important one in creating an atmosphere of confidence and showing the will of the parties to address difficult issues," Reuters reported quoting Peter Semneby.

Abkhaz authorities said that they had “met a request” of EU special representative and released Kordzaia, who “was sentenced to five years in jail in 2009 for illegally keeping arms and drugs in place of his residence in the village of Azhara” in upper Kodori gorge in Abkhazia.

The Georgian State Ministry for Reintegration said in a statement on September 9, that the Georgian government was grateful to EU and its special representative and ”all parties involved in the process” of Kordzaia’s release.

“The Government of Georgia stands ready to constructively discuss and resolve all the specific issues of humanitarian concern,” the ministry said.

At the time of Kordzaia’s arrest in February, 2009, it was reported that the Abkhaz side was suspecting him of committing “grave crimes” when he commanded a Georgian army battalion during the war in Abkhazia in early 90s. It was also reported that the Abkhaz law enforcement agencies were investigating his possible links to downing of Mi-8 helicopter during the war carrying Abkhaz civilians. He, however, was eventually convicted on weapons charges.

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