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Georgia President Pardons Men

July 6, 2002

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TBILISI, Georgia (AP) _ President Eduard Shevardnadze _ the former Soviet foreign minister _ has pardoned three men who tried to assassinate him in 1995, a government official said on Saturday.

Rusiko Beridze, deputy secretary of the Security Council, said Shevardnadze signed a decree on Friday that freed the three men from prison terms ranging from 10 to 15 years.

The three were convicted of planting a bomb in a car in the Shevardnadze motorcade Aug. 29, 1995. It exploded just as the vehicles were leaving the parliament building. Shevardnadze was hit by flying glass but not seriously hurt.

Shevardnadze also survived a gun and grenade attack on the presidential motorcade in February 1998 that left two of his bodyguards dead.

Friday’s decree pardoned Timur Khachishvili, a former deputy security minister sentenced to 15 years, Guram Pupukashvili, a former police commander serving a 13 year sentence, and Giga Gelashivili, serving a 10-year sentence.

Shevardnadze has in the past pardoned several other people convicted of trying to kill him, including a former finance minister involved in the 1998 attack.

Guram Absandze, the finance minister under President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who was ousted in 1992, was pardoned by Shevardnadze in April this year.

That pardon was seen as an effort toward conciliation with Gamsakhurdia supporters, who are among Shevardnadze’s fiercest critics.

Gamsakhurdia, Georgia’s first post-Soviet president, fought a short war in a bid to return to power after his overthrow. He died in mysterious circumstances in 1994, and his followers still are deeply opposed to Shevardnadze.

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