The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia says that Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze was not planning to poison Patriarch Ilia II or a high-ranking cleric of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Archpriest Mamaladze was arrested on February 10 at Tbilisi International Airport and allegedly found with cyanide in his luggage, before his scheduled departure to Berlin where the Patriarch is recovering from surgery. The case has caused widespread shock and speculation in Georgia, where the Patriarch and the Orthodox church are highly influential institutions.
The Prosecutor’s Office press service told the media outlet Rezonansi that Archpriest Mamaladze is charged with the intention to murder “an individual” from the Patriarch’s surrounders, but not the Patriarch. The Prosecutor’s Office says that their statement was wrongly understood by the government, clerics, and society, Rezonansi reports. “The Prosecutor General has stated openly that this case is not about the Patriarch,” the Prosecutor’s Office said. They did not specify further who was the target of the alleged planned poisoning.
At a special briefing on February 10, the Prosecutor’s Office explained that the investigation opened on February 2 when an individual approached them claiming that Archpriest Mamaladze had asked for help to obtain the cyanide. The Prosecutor’s Office says Mamaladze wanted to get the poison before his departure to Berlin. Prosecutor General Irakli Shotadze stated that his office has audio and video evidence to support their claims, but will not release the evidence or talk about any details “due to the sensitivity of the case.”
Archpriest Mamaladze denies the allegations against him. He is the manager of all the Patriarchate of Georgia’s properties.
Georgian top state officials commented widely on the cyanide case following Archpriest Mamaladze’s arrest. "We've avoided a big disaster,” Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said.
“We prevented a crime against our country and a deceitful attack on the church.”
The Human Rights Centre (HRIDC) responded on February 14 that these statements from high-ranking officials in the government and parliament violate the principle of presumption of innocence of the suspect. Ombudsman Ucha Nanuashvili spoke on February 14 that Archpriest Mamaladze most probably was detained with procedural violations, and called on the investigative organs to publicize more information surrounding the case.
One source says the target of the poisoning was the Patriarch’s secretary, Shorena Tetruashvili, according to InterpressNews’ interview with lawyer Mamuka Nozadze. Nozadze is not Archpriest Mamaladze’s lawyer but says he received this information from a reliable source.
Previously, MPs from the Georgian Dream, namely Eka Beselia, Tamara Chugoshvili and Archil Talakvadze have commented on the case asserting that the attack was planned against the Patriarch.