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Key witness in notorious cyanide case leaves Georgia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, June 29
A key witness of the prosecution in the notorious cyanide case, in which a cleric is accused of an attempted murder of the Patriarch’s secretary, has left Georgia as he says is “demoralized.”

Journalist Irakli Mamaladze - who, as he and the Prosecutor’s Office claim, informed police that Father Giorgi Mamaladze purchased cyanide to kill the Patriarch's secretary, Shorena Tetruashvili - has left for Kiev.

Irakli Mamaladze, who was Giorgi Mamaladze’s close friend and apparently a distant relative, made a decision to leave Georgia after the Rustavi 2 private broadcaster released a letter by ex-police official Irakli Pirtskhalava from prison.

In the letter, Pirtskhalava says that Irakli Mamaladze is a spy of Georgia’s State Security Service, tasked to collect information about clergymen, journalists and LGBT people.

Irakli Mamaladze has dismissed the information, but stated he was “demoralized” as the “false information” had affected his life.

Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office says the “temporary leave” was agreed with them.

Rustavi 2 released the letter a day before Giorgi Mamaladze’s trial on June 24 and three days after Patriarch Ilia II met the detained clergyman’s family.

In early February this year, 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.

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

During the meeting with Ilia II, the Mamaladze family asked for the Patriarch to request and make Giorgi Mamaladze’s trials open for the public.

In the audio released by Patriarchate, Tornike Mamaladze, Giorgi Mamaladze’s brother, says his brother is innocent and if the trials remain closed people will not know the truth.

The trials were closed at the request of the Prosecutor’s Office as there was a “personal life video” among their evidences.

The Patriarch told Mamaladze that it was up to the court to make such solutions and spirituals had no right to get involved in the court’s decisions.

The Patriarch described the detainee as a good person and stated it was a “shock” for him when he heard about the detention of the clergyman.

The family and Mamaladze’s lawyers, as well as some high ranking spiritual figures, claim 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”.

They named Secretary Tetruashvili as a “key wrongdoer”, as well as Archbishop Jacob.

At the meeting with the Patriarch, the family stated that the case “aimed to discredit” the Church and stressed they did not accept the appeal of political players to act with them, to prevent the case from being politicized.

They said they also did not want to take the case to the international court, as they cared about the Patriarchate’s image.

The Patriarch told them that he and his people were very much interested in establishing the truth.

The family also asked the Patriarch to see the detainee and listen to his confession and receive Eucharist.

The Patriarch tasked two clergymen for this but it emerged later that Archbishop Jacob used his influence to temporarily ban the detainee from receiving Eucharist for “the unlawful blaming of innocent people”.