France keeps former Georgian police chief in custody

A French court yesterday rejected a former Georgian defence minister's plea to be freed from custody but did not rule on his extradition to his homeland, where he is wanted on corruption charges.


Davit Kezerashvili was detained last month at Nice airport on the French riviera, after an international arrest warrant was issued.


Kezerashvili, who is an ally of outgoing Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, headed Georgia's financial police and was charged in January with taking a bribe of nine million euros to facilitate alcohol smuggling in the former Soviet nation.


His lawyers say he is a victim of a witch-hunt against Saakahsvili's prominent supporters, following the election of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili as prime minister blast year.


Giorgi Margvelashvili, an ally of Ivanishvili, was elected to replace Saakashvili on Sunday.


After the court in Aix-en-Provence turned down his appeal to be released, Kezerashvili's lawyer, Aurélien Hamelle, said a fresh appeal will be filed.