TBILISI, DFWatch–Five Defense Ministry officials who were detained last fall on embezzlement charges were released Friday on the basis of personal guarantees from several MPs.
The Prosecutor General’s Office wanted to set a bail bond, but backed down.
The so-called cables case is one of the most high-profile criminal investigations in recent months. It resulted in a split in the ruling coalition as Irakli Alasania and his Free Democrats left the government and went into opposition.
The judge’s ruling on Friday was greeted with loud applause.
All five, who have been in detention for eight months, left the courtroom freely.
Charges haven’t been dropped, and investigators accuse them of embezzlement of state money in connection with the building of high-speed broadband.
Tbilisi City Court recently ruled the evidence presented by prosecutors non-admissible, which would have led to detainees being released, but the prosecution appealed and the Appeals Court overturned the ruling by the lower court.
Then, on Thursday, the Prosecutor General’s Office asked the city court to place the detainees on bail, because the maximum length of pre-trial detention, nine months, will expire on July 28.
Friday, Tbilisi City Court released the detainees on condition of a guarantee put up by MPs Nino Goguadze, Irakli Chikovani, Zurab Abashidze, Viktor Dolidze and Shalva Shavgulidze from the Free Democrats.
Nugzar Kaishauri, Gizo Ghlonti, Davit Tsipuria, Giorgi Lobzhanidze and Archil Alavidze were detained in October, 2014, while then Defense Minister Irakli Alasania was visiting France. He immediately accused the government of trying to discredit the ministry and interrupting his signing of a military procurement deal with a company in France.
“We will defeat this government in the next election, just like we defeated the injustice today,” Irakli Alasania said on Friday, congratulating the five and their families.