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Georgia jails top opposition leader for four and a half years

The verdict came a day after Gigi Ugulava — former mayor of the capital Tbilisi and an ally of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili — was released from custody following the Constitutional Court’s ruling that his 14-month pre-trial detention was “illegal”. Judge Lasha Chkhartishvili found Ugulava guilty of the fictitious employment of hundreds of activists from Saakashvili’s party in the Tbilisi municipality but acquitted him, along with former defence minister David Kezerashvili — who was standing the same trial in absentia — on money laundering charges. Ugulava’s lawyer Beka Basilaia denounced the verdict as part of “the government’s witch-hunt against political opponents”.

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