November 1st, 2007 12:02 EST
Forced out of the country, Georgian President’s critic
Georgia's former Defence Minister, Irakly Okruashvili, has reportedly been forced out of the country even though he's under investigation.
Georgia's General Prosecutor's office is saying Okruashvili had asked to leave for a medical check-up and his departure was authorised.
But his lawyer says he was pressured into leaving.
"Irakly Okruashvili did file a written request to leave the country due to health problems two days after he was released on bail, but he was told to do so by officers at the General Prosecutor's Office. The request is dated October, 9 or 10, but the date can be easily changed to one convenient for the General Prosecutor's Office. It's been a month since Okruashvili was released but he hasn't made attempts to leave the country even though he did have an opportunity. He told me he wanted to take part in the opposition rally on November, 2," Okruashvili's lawyer, Eka Beseliya, commented.
In 2004, Irakly Okruashvili was Georgia's Prosecutor General and the Minister of Defence for the following two years.
In September this year, he accused the country's president, Mikhail Saakashvili, of plotting to assassinate the tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili.
Initially in custody, he was later released on bail.
Georgian capital takes extra precautions ahead of opposition rally
Meanwhile, roadblocks are being installed on roads to Georgia's capital, ahead of the anti-Saakashvili opposition rally due to take place there on Friday.
It's also reported the roads have been covered with nails to stop those heading for Tbilisi.
The demonstrator's main demand is to hold a parliamentary election next April rather than in autumn as previously agreed.
Classes at Tbilisi schools located in the city centre have been cancelled and students have been advised to keep off streets during the rally.
World’s richest Georgian to enter politics
The opposition is also fuelling speculation that, who is thought to be the world’s richest Georgian, will officially enter politics.
Patarkatsishvili has been accused by the government of conspiring to stage a virtual revolution to remove them from power using Imedi TV, an independent TV station which he founded five years ago.
On Wednesday News Corporation, the world’s largest media company, took full legal power of attorney over Imedi TV.
“They’ll be no changes. There is no bias at Imedi in terms of how we report news. We are part of News Corporation and part of that is Fox News. They have a saying ‘we report, you decide’ and that’s what we do,” Newsmedia Caucasus Chief Executive, Louis Robertson, said.
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