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Ex-minister awaits extradition decision after arrest in Germany

By Ana Datiashvili
Friday, November 30

Following his dramatic arrest in Berlin on November 29, former Georgian defense minister Irakli Okruashvili remains in German custody pending extradition proceedings.

Georgian authorities have 40 days in which to file the necessary paperwork with the Berlin Prosecutor General’s Office.

Okruashvili’s lawyers’ case will center on proving their client is a political refugee.

Soon after his detention in the German capital, the ex-minister’s Georgian lawyer contacted his defense attorney in Berlin.

“It’s important for us to submit to Berlin documents which, in our opinion, prove Okruashvili's innocence,” his lawyer and co-party member Eka Beselia told the ITAR-TASS news agency on November 29.

She also said she has had no opportunity to talk to Okruashvili by telephone so far.

Representatives of Georgia’s opposition coalition have said they do not rule out Beselia’s going to Germany in the next few days in order to submit documents in Okruashvili's defense and meet with the former minister, ITAR-TASS reported.

According to Rustavi 2, Michael Grunwald, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General’s Office in Berlin, said that Okruashvili would have the opportunity to put his case before a German judge before extradition proceedings are instigated.

“We are now awaiting full details of [Okruashvili’s] extradition. So far, the only documents we’ve received from the Georgian General Prosecutor’s office only relate to misappropriation allegations,” Grunwald said on November 29.

Georgian authorities said on November 29 that Okruashvili and his associate, Yason Chikhladze, had intended to ask for political asylum in Germany, Rustavi 2 announced.

The former defense minister was arrested in Berlin at Georgia’s request, on charges of extortion and money laundering.