irakli okruashvili free on bail 2013-01-11

Irakli Okruashvili in Tbilisi, January 2013. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Former defense minister Irakli Okruashvili was Saturday briefly detained by French police after a scuffle with another Georgian politician, former MP Merab Samadashvili.

The scuffle took place at Nice airport. Okruashvili was later released by airport police.

Teo Tlashadze, a friend of Okruashvili, told Interpressnews that she hasn’t spoken to him personally but learned about the incident from friends.

“Okruashvili wasn’t personally offended by Samadashvili, but beat him in order to take revenge on the United National Movement,” she added, referring to the party led by President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Later she said that the scuffle broke out because of an earlier incident involving one of Okruashvili’s bodyguards, who was injured during the parliamentary election in 2008.

“In 2008, the UNM fought us. Samadashvili’s guard stabbed Irakli Okruashvili’s guard Paata Khaladze in front of Merab Samadashvili. Okruashvili remembered this specific incident at the airport,” she explained.

Merab Samadashvili from UNM is a former majoritarian MP for Nadzaladevi district in Tbilisi.

Okruashvili was defense minister in the early years of Saakashvili’s government, but joined the opposition and left for France. He didn’t return to Georgia until after the recent change of government.

On March 28, 2008, a court sentenced him to eleven years in jail in absentia. After the parliamentary election in 2012, he returned and was detained, but later the court released him on bail.