Tbilisi City Court found Georgia’s ex-defense minister and former chief of financial police, Davit Kezerashvili, not guilty of bribe-taking charges.
Kezerashvili, who was standing trial in absentia, is in France where court in the city of Aix-en-Provence ruled against his extradition to Georgia in February, 2014.
Criminal charges were brought against Kezerashvili in January, 2013 in connection to the case involving alleged USD 12.3 million bribe-taking for providing 'protection' to ethyl spirit smuggling scheme between 2007 and 2012. In the same case, Kezerashvili was also charged with violation of customs procedures, which, as prosecutors claimed, resulted in up to GEL 49.4 million losses for the state budget in unpaid taxes.
The court in Tbilisi acquitted Kezerashvili, who was denying allegations, in both of these charges. Prosecutor said the verdict will be appealed to higher court.
Kezerashvili’s co-defendant in the trial and his relative, Meir Janashvili, who is at large, was found guilty in absentia and sentenced to nine years in prison.
Kezerashvili, 35, was chief of the financial police from 2004 till late 2006 and then served as Defense Minister till December 2008 before going into business.
He is facing other charges as well. In February, 2013 he was charged along with then Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava with misappropriation of state funds and money laundering; trial is still ongoing.
In May, 2014 additional charges were filed against Kezerashvili in connection to alleged misappropriation of state funds while serving as defense minister.