Cyanide Case

Prosecutor’s Office Releases Audio and Video Footage in Cyanide Case

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Photo: ნეტგაზეთი

The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia released interim results today of their investigation of the ‘Cyanide case,’ including audio and video footage. A high-ranking cleric in the Georgian Orthodox Church, archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze, was arrested on February 10 in an alleged plot to poison another high-ranking clergy member of the church.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the archpriest asked Irakli Mamaladze, who is the Prosecutor’s Office’ main witness in the case, for help in obtaining the cyanide. In exchange he was promised a ‘good place.’ The Prosecutor’s Office also revealed that the suspect was Googling on his mobile phone for information on the effects of cyanide on the human body and symptoms of poisoning. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, archpriest Mamaladze bought the cyanide from someone else in the end.

The investigation started on February 2, 2017, when Irakli Mamaladze approached the Prosecutor’s Office reporting that his acquaintance, Giorgi Mamaladze, asked him for help in obtaining kalium cyanide. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Irakli Mamaladze has presented audio and video footage of the conversations, and a note from the archpriest on which is written “Kaliumcyanide.”

According to the video and audio recording of the conversation between archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze and Irakli Mamaladze, the two were discussing people who were close by to the Patriarch while he was recovering from surgery in Berlin. The archpriest discusses Shorena Tetruashvili, Patriarch Illia II’s secretary and close aid. In the video he says that “Shorena still managed to squeeze in, she should be killed.” The video released by the Prosecutor’s Office is a montage of different video recordings.

Shorena Tetruashvili was interrogated by the Prosecutor’s Office on March 6th; they qualified her as the targeted victim of the attempted poisoning.

The Prosecutor’s Office statement today specifies that: “Calligraphy expertise has proven that the note was written by Mamaladze. The investigation also found a gun, which was unlawfully purchased and kept in his house. Based on these evidences, the archpriest was accused of preparing for the murder of Shorena Tetruashvili and the unlawful purchase and keeping of a weapon.”

The Prosecutor’s Office said that, taking into account the evidence, there is rising suspicion that Archpriest Mamaladze was not acting alone, and that he had accomplices. They report that was why the Patriarch’s security strengthened during his stay in Germany. The Prosecutor's Office said that the investigation is still underway and they are working on several versions. The information shared today was only part of the investigation results.

The Prosecutor’s Office also discussed archpriest Mamaladze’s alleged behaviour during interrogations, and said that the archpriest is trying to shift the blame to other members of the clergy, namely those who were the alleged targets of the poisoning. They report that Archpriest Mamaladze requested to ensure the security of his family members, and that he agreed to cooperate with the investigative organs only after their security was ensured.

The Prosecutor’s Office believes that “Mamaladze is trying to present himself as the victim and avoid the anticipated heavy punishment,” they said in their statement. “The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has already ensured the safety of the suspect’s family members and now we are hoping that Mamaladze will keep his promises and answer the questions in the investigation.”

Archpriest Mamaladze was arrested by the Prosecutor’s Office on February 10 at Tbilisi International Airport while departing to Berlin, where Patriarch Ilia II was recovering from a gall bladder surgery. Cyanide was found in his luggage. At a special briefing, Prosecutor General Irakli Shotadze said his office had audio and video evidence to support their claims, but that they were not releasing the evidence “due to the sensitivity of the case.”

On February 16, 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, as was widely speculated.

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