London court refuses to extradite Georgia’s ex-Defense Minister to Georgia
By Messenger Staff
Friday, April 8The London court has abstained from extraditing former Georgian Defence Minister Davit Kezerashvili to Georgia. The former official’s lawyer Shota Mindeli has confirmed the information and provided the reason behind the decision.
Mindeli says that main reason for the verdict was that Kezerashvili was believed to be a subject of political ‘persecution in Georgia’.
The lawyer said Kezerashvili himself attended the trial held in London.
Criminal charges were brought against Kezerashvili in January, 2013 in connection to the case involving alleged USD 12.3 million bribe-taking.
Kezerashvili was also charged with violating customs procedures, which, as prosecutors claimed, resulted in up to GEL 49.4 million losses for the state budget in unpaid taxes.
Kezerashvili, 37, was chief of the financial police from 2004 till late 2006 and then served as Defence Minister till December 2008 before going to business.
Commenting on the issue Georgia’s Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani said one day Kezerashvili would definitely be extradited to Georgia as the current Georgian Government was continuing to provide all necessary evidence and documentation for this.
The Minister stressed her body has already achieved success in some other notorious cases related to Georgia’s ex-officials, and in the future Kezerashvili would also be returned to Georgia.
The Government members continually state that a range of ex-officials were involved in criminal activities, while the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party (who ruled the country until 2012) claim the ex-officials are victims of harsh political persecution.
When the current authorities say the former leaders were committing crimes they admit they should also prove this, as otherwise there will be questions marks raised over the country which will affect the state image.
Of course it is hard to investigate an alleged crime from years ago, but these investigations are directly linked with Georgia’s foreign image; it is of paramount importance that these investigations be transparent.