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Detained cleric goes on hunger strike

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, April 7
Detained archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze, whose case has caused turmoil in the country, and who is accused of the attempted murder of the Patriarch’s secretary Shorena Tetruashvili and the illegal possession of a weapon, has gone on hunger strike with the demand to meet Catholics Patriarch Ilia II and the members of the Holy Synod.

Mamaladze’s lawyer Mikehil Ramishvili announced that the strike is due to a “range of false information” that is being spread over the case.

The lawyer announced that Mamaladze wanted the meeting to make some explanations and to express his views.

Commenting on the issue, head of Patriarchate Penitentiary System Relations Department Archpriest Giorgi Tevdorashvili said that going on a hunger strike from any cleric was a “bit strange”, as the Patriarchate is doctrinally against hunger strikes.

He said Mamaladze could meet with the members of the Holy Synod and the Patriarch without such a radical step.

Four days ago, relatives of Mamaladze organized a rally in the western city of Batumi, as they could see “certain wrongdoings” in the investigation process.

They said they would continue the rallies alongside the court trial.

In early February, Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office announced that they had detained Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze, the deputy head of the Patriarchate’s Property Management Service and director general of the Patriarchate’s medical centre, at Tbilisi International Airport, from where he intended to depart for Germany on February 10, where the Patriarch was being operated on.

Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze said that Mamaladze was attempting to acquire cyanide, and the man from whom he tried to receive the substance informed the police that the archpriest intended to kill a high ranking spiritual figure.

Many thought the target of the attack was the Patriarch, but later, the Office specified the alleged target was actually Tetruashvili.

Mamaladze’s lawyer and family claim the man is innocent.

Some members of the church say that Mamaladze knew about various financial and property-related violations within the church, which is why he was “trapped by some people involved in illegalities.”

The Prosecutor’s Office also released video footage wherein Mamaladze is speaking about the purchase of cyanide and mentions Tetruashvili in a negative context.

However, Mamaladze’s lawyers say the different parts were cut from the video.

Meanwhile, members of the church commented on the recent IRI polls and mentioned Mamaladze’s case in the context.

“It is not surprising that the church is so popular and trusted in Georgia, but some people aim to destroy it,” Georgian Cleric Father Shalva Kekelia said, referring to the poll outcomes naming the church as the most trusted institution in Georgia.

“Everybody thought that people would stop going to church after father Giorgi Mamaladze was detained, but, thank God it has not happened,” he added.