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  Friday, September 20, 2019
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France has granted political asylum to Georgian opposition leader Irakly Okruashvili,
France has granted political asylum to Georgian opposition leader Irakly Okruashvili, who has been sentenced to 11 years in prison in absentia in Tbilisi, an opposition party spokesman said on Wednesday.

Former Georgian defense minister Okruashvili's lawyer, Yekaterina Beseliya, confirmed the announcement.

"The service of the French Interior Ministry which has been considering Okruashvili's asylum application gave its approval on Tuesday," she said.

His French lawyers have also confirmed the report

In March the Tbilisi City Court requested Okruashvili's extradition. Last week a Paris court of appeals began hearings on the issue, but immediately postponed them until June 11.

The Georgian Prosecutor General's Office says it has no official information confirming the decision to grant Okruashvili asylum.

Last September, Okruashvili accused his former ally President Mikheil Saakashvili of setting up corrupt commercial deals to benefit his family, plotting to seize Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia by force, and ordering the assassination in the U.K. of Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili.

Georgian prosecutors arrested and charged Okruashvili with abuse of office, money laundering and corruption. He was consequently tried in absentia and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Okruashvili fled to Germany and was extradited to France last year where he was arrested in November at the request of Georgian authorities.

A Paris court released the former minister on bail on January 30.

Okruashvili said in early March that he would head the candidate list of his Movement for United Georgia, an opposition party, at Georgia's parliamentary polls in May.


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