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French woman in Georgia released after found in possession of ‘illegal’ drug
A French woman was detained in Georgia for more than a week after being found in possession of a medicinal drug that is illegal in the country. She was released on Thursday.
Arzu Bilici, a 41-year-old French mother from Strasbourg in the east of France, was arrested at the Georgian border at the end of July.
She was in possession of the painkiller Dafalgan, a medicinal drug that contains codeine and that is sold legally in France, but is considered an illegal and banned drug in Georgia.
Arzu Bilici takes this medication for her headaches.
She was on holiday in Turkey when she decided to do a one-day-trip to the neighbouring country.
Another French woman, 36-year-old Hatice Kaynar, from Angers in the west of France, was arrested for the same reason a few days later.
Their identification documents were taken from them, and they were forbidden to leave Georgia before a court heard their case.
Arzu Bilici was forced to live in her car, in front of the police office of Akhaltsikhe in the south of Georgia, for nine days.
She was fined 2 500 euro. This was confirmed by a court on Thursday.
“The nightmare is finally over,” she declared.
As part of her sentence she was banned from driving a car in Georgia for five years, but as she told AFP, “This is the first and the last time I come to this country.”
Hatice Kaynar is still in Georgia awaiting her court appearance.
Both women told French radio France Info that they were disappointed with the French Embassy in Georgia, who allegedly told Arzu Belici: “We can’t do anything for you. Count yourself lucky that you are not in jail.”
But the French news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur reported that the French Foreign Ministry confirmed the embassy in Tbilissi (Georgia) was in contact with the two women and their close relatives. It added that they were given the best consular assistance possible.
On the website of the French Embassy in Georgia, tourists are warned to check if their medication is authorized in Georgia before coming to the country.