Georgia Will Try Dissident In Abstentia

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TBILISI, Georgia, July 29 (UPI) — Political activist Badri Bitsadze will be tried in absentia on charges of organizing attacks on police in Georgia, his lawyer said.

Bitsadze, husband of Georgian opposition leader Nino Burdzhanadze, allegedly organized attacks on police during the five-day protest against President Mikheil Saakashvili May 26, RIA Novosti reported.

Bitsadze disappeared after the incident. The trial starts Friday; he could be sentenced to seven years in prison if convicted.

Police using rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons broke up the May 26 event, which officials said was an attempt to prevent an Independence Day military parade.

Police later said they arrested 24 members of an armed group planning attacks to destabilize Georgia; police said a member of that group identified Bitsadze as one of the main figures.

Days after the incident, Georgian police released a recording of a telephone conversation between Nino Burdzhanadze and her younger son, Anzor Bitsadze, discussing a possible “Egyptian scenario” to overthrow Saakashvili.

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