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A Georgian parliamentary committee has passed a draft resolution to sanction
A Georgian parliamentary committee has passed a draft resolution to sanction the arrest of the head of billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili's campaign headquarters accused of plotting a coup.

Prosecutors said Valery Gelbakhiani, who is also a Georgian lawmaker, met with a senior Interior Ministry official, Erekle Kodua, to discuss mass street protests allegedly being planned for after the presidential elections on January 5.

A deputy prosecutor general, Giorgi Latsabidze, said the main evidence against Gelbakhiani was Kodua's testimony and that of a handwriting expert regarding a letter Gelbakhiani wrote to his boss, Patarkatsishvili, about accommodating Kodua in London.

Giorgi Tsanava, an opposition deputy, said Judge Marina Gabuniya was a close relative of Erekle Kodua whose testimony led to the opening of the attempted coup case against Gelbakhiani and Patarkatsishvili.

Gabuniya was a mediator at the meeting between Gelbakhiani and Kodua, which was later broadcast by Georgian prosecutors. The recording showed the two men discussing how to overthrow President Mikheil Saakashvili, who won early presidential elections on January 5 following mass protests demanding his resignation in November.

Kodua later discussed the subject in London with Patarkatsishvili. The businessman allegedly offered him $100 million for his cooperation.

Badri Patarkatsishvili, 52, is Georgia's richest man who currently lives in Britain. The tycoon called accusations against him a "provocation" and stated that he could sue Georgian authorities over it.

Patarkatsishvili, who is himself suspected of instigating a coup during November's street protests, has repeatedly delayed his arrival in Georgia for election campaigning over what he says is a lack of security guarantees from the government.

In an interview with The Sunday Times last weekend, the tycoon said he feared he might be the target of an assassination plot.


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