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Georgian MP denies psychotropics were used on ex-defense minister

RIA Novosti

10/10/2007 18:46 MOSCOW, October 10 (RIA Novosti) - The Georgian opposition's claims that psychotropic drugs were used against former Georgian defense minister Irakly Okruashvili in prison are untrue, the leader of the country's ruling party said on Wednesday.

"Talk about Okruashvili backtracking on his words under the influence of psychotropic substances is nonsense. His speeches were shown on television, and no one with any common sense doubted that his statements were being made of his own free will," Giga Bokeriya, who leads the United National Movement, said during a Moscow-Tbilisi video linkup organized by RIA Novosti.

Bokeriya also said he believes that by making his accusations against President Mikheil Saakashvili, Okruashvili wanted to achieve immunity from prosecution, hoping that the Georgian authorities would be afraid of any resulting political scandal.

Okruashvili, an outspoken critic of U.S.-educated Saakashvili, was detained in late September, days after announcing the creation of an opposition movement, For United Georgia.

His supporters called the arrest political, and linked it to Okruashvili's comments made in an Imedi TV interview on September 25, in which he accused Saakashvili of corruption and an attempt to kill businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili.

Okruashvili also alleged that Georgian authorities had covertly planned to seize control of the breakaway republic of South Ossetia in 2006.

The former minister pleaded guilty to professional negligence and partially guilty to charges of extortion. The former minister was also charged with blackmail, money laundering, and abuse of office.

On Sunday, Okruashvili unexpectedly withdrew his accusations of corruption against the president. However, one of his lawyers said that her client had testified under duress, and in the absence of his legal counsel.

Certain media reported on Tuesday that after posting bail of $6 million and being released from custody, Okruashvili fled the country, but his lawyer Yekaterina Beseliya said it was untrue.

Patarkatsishvili said Tuesday he was glad Okruashvili had been released, but that he could not speculate on the situation as "Okruashvili's behavior and psychological state are unclear even to the ex-defense minister's mother."

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