Georgia Sentences Opposition Leader’s Husband to 5 1/2 Year Term

A Georgian court sentenced Badri Bitsadze, the husband of opposition leader Nino Burjanadze, to five and a half years in prison for organizing disobedience against police.

Bitsadze, whose whereabouts remain unknown, received the sentence in absentia, a Tbilisi City Court spokeswoman, Tamar Andriadze, said by phone today. The authorities charged Bitsadze in June with helping a group of anti-government protesters in May attempt an armed uprising. He failed to make a 100,000-lari ($61,000) bail payment in June.

The charges of resisting police and using violence to threaten public order are “ridiculous,” Bitsadze’s lawyer Levan Samushia said by phone today.

Two people died in Georgia’s capital and at least 19 were injured as police sought to remove anti-government protesters from the city center in preparation for the independence day parade on May 26. Opposition groups had held five days of rallies in the city calling for the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Burjanadze’s driver was sentenced to a 12-year prison term earlier this month after his car sped away from central Tbilisi, killing a demonstrator and a police officer, Andriadze said.

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