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Georgian Ex-Minister Freed on Bail After Retracting Charge Against President


A court in the Georgian capital has freed the country's former defense minister on bail, after he retracted conspiracy accusations leveled last month against President Mikhail Saakashvili.

Irakly Okruashvili, who faces charges of extortion, money laundering and abuse of power, was released Tuesday after posting bond of $6 million (10 million lari). News agency reports say Okruashvili and his family left the country a short while later.

Monday, Georgian television aired a statement in which Okruashvili told investigators he had no proof to back up his claims that the president had plotted to kill a prominent businessman. He said he made up the accusations to reap political gains. Okruashvili's supporters say he retracted the accusations under duress.

Last month, up to 10,000 people protested in Tbilisi after Okruashvili's arrest. Demonstrators claimed the government case against the former minister was rigged.

Okruashvili was an ally of President Saakashvili in the 2003 Rose revolution that propelled Mr. Saakashvili to power. He served the new government in several posts, before being fired last November. He then formed a new opposition party, the Movement for United Georgia.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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