Ex-Georgian Defense Minister Placed Under Arrest in Berlin

BERLIN -- Former Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili has been arrested in Germany at Georgia's request, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Okruashvili was detained in Berlin on Tuesday after Georgian authorities issued a request for his arrest via Interpol, said Michael Grunwald, a spokesman for prosecutors in the German capital.

Grunwald said prosecutors would now have to decide whether to request that he be held in custody pending extradition. He said Georgia would have 40 days to deliver full documentation on the case.

He did not have details of Georgia's accusations against Okruashvili, nor of the former minister's response to them. Okruashvili was to be brought before a judge for an initial, closed-door hearing Wednesday, but Grunwald said he could not give details of the outcome.

Georgia's Interior Ministry and Prosecutor General's Office confirmed the arrest but declined to comment further.

Grunwald said that, in addition to Okruashvili, an aide to the former minister, Yason Chikhladze, was arrested Monday.

Georgia was thrown into political turmoil in September when Okruashvili, a hawkish former ally of President Mikheil Saakashvili who was dismissed as defense chief last year, accused the president of corruption and plotting to murder a prominent businessman.

He was arrested but freed on multimillion-dollar bail after he retracted his allegations, and he later left for Germany.

After his departure, a court in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, on Nov. 14 ordered that Okruashvili be returned to custody.

The prosecutors' office there said Okruashvili had not reported for questioning when summoned by investigators and that one of the people who contributed to his bail had asked for the return of his money.