NATO chief says concerned over Georgia arrests

PRAGUE Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:27am GMT

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen addresses a news conference in Brussels November 5, 2012. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen addresses a news conference in Brussels November 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

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PRAGUE (Reuters) - NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed concern on Monday over the arrests of opponents of Georgia's new government following elections last month, and urged the authorities to ensure there was no political meddling in their trials.

A Georgian court decided on Friday to keep a former minister in custody but bailed two army commanders charged with abuse of power. The case has raised concern the new government led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili is waging a political vendetta.

"I'm extremely concerned about the development we have seen since (the elections), not least related to recent arrests of political opponents in Georgia," Rasmussen said at a meeting of NATO parliamentary assembly in Prague.

"It's for the legal system, the judicial system in Georgia to sort out these cases. But of course it's important that such trials are not undermined by political interference," he said.

"And we will of course follow that development very very closely," he added.

Ivanishvili has vowed to take action against former officials suspected of wrongdoing after his coalition ousted President Mikheil Saakashvili's party in an October 1 parliamentary poll.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka and Jana Mlcochova; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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