TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgia's former defense minister has been freed following his acquittal on extortion and money-laundering charges, after witnesses in his previous trial said they had been pressured to testify against him.
Supporters of Irakli Okruashvili claim the charges against him are politically motivated. He threw the ex-Soviet nation into political turmoil in 2008 when he claimed President Mikhail Saakashvili had asked him to organize the killing of a billionaire opposition supporter.
Okruashvili fled to France, but a Georgian court sentenced him in absentia to 11 years in prison. He returned to Georgia in November after an anti-Saakashvili coalition won the parliament election. He was arrested and jailed, but immediately appealed against his convictions.
A court in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, freed Okruashvili Friday.