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Court in Greece Rejects Extradition of Ex-Senior Interior Ministry Official

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Court in Greek port city of Patras ruled on October 16 against extradition of former head of the security service at the Interior Ministry, Data Akhalaia, who is wanted in Georgia on multiple criminal charges, which he denies as politically motivated.

Data Akhalaia, ex-head of the constitutional security department, was detained in Patras in early spring with false passport; he was released on EUR 100,000 bail pending extradition hearings.

Akhalaia said after the court’s ruling against his extradition that this decision “confirms once again that there is a political persecution” in Georgia.

In March the Tbilisi City Court found Data Akhalaia, guilty of exceeding official powers into the case related to beating up of police officers in 2005 and sentenced him in absentia to 3 years and 9 months in jail. Akhalaia is also charged in connection to Sandro Girgvliani case and is also facing murder charges in a separate case. 

Data Akhalaia is brother of former prison system chief and ex-defense minister, Bacho Akhalaia, who is in pre-trial detention since November, 2012 standing trials in several separate criminal cases. Their father, Roland Akhalaia, a former chief prosecutor in Samegrelo region, is a lawmaker from UNM opposition party; he is also facing criminal charges. MP Akhalaia was charged in April with exceeding official powers while serving as chief prosecutor in Samegrelo region in 2011.

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