Tbilisi, DFWatch – 37 famous Georgians, including members of the ruling coalition, stand in bail for release of the five defense ministry officials, detained earlier on corruption charges; 20 of them vouch for their innocence.

Along with several popular personalities such as film director Eldar Shengelaia, poets Davit Maghradze and Rati Amaglobeli, singers Nato Metonidze and Liza Bagrationi, composer Jemal Sepiashvili, musician Nikoloz Rachveli, the list includes MPs from Republican Party and National Forum, both members of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, and entire parliamentary team of the Free Democrats of Irakli Alasania, a former defense minister, dismissed in the wake of the detention of his fellow colleagues from the ministry.

Giorgi Karkarashvili, a former defense minister during wars in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in early 1990s, also stands in bail for the release of the five.

Lawyers of the detainees plan to raise a motion in the court to replace the pretrial detention with a bail.

The Prosecutor’s Office detained five officials at the Defense Ministry and accused them of embezzlement of about USD 2.3 million of public funds in late October.

Irakli Alasania, then a defense minister and darling of Georgia’s western partners, claimed their innocence and pointed out that move had been aimed directly at him, harshly criticizing the prosecutors and the government. Soon Irakli Garibashvili, a PM, sacked him.

Ministers of Foreign Affairs and European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, members of Alasania team, also stepped down, followed by the Free Democrats faction in the parliament, which immediately left the ruling coalition.

In a likely signal that the plea might have been heard by the GD’s leadership, the same day Irakli Sesiashvili, a chair of the parliament’s defense and security committee and GD’s commentator on defense issues, said he hopes that eventually the detainees would been released on bail.