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Court sentences archpriest of notorious cyanide case to nine years

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, September 6
Tbilisi City Court has sentenced archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze, who was accused of the attempted murder of Patriarch’s Secretary, to nine years to prison.

The clergyman refused to attend the trial, where his verdict was announced on September 5.

In the post-trial statement released by Tbilisi City Court, the court says that the motive of the attempted murder was “revenge.”

Mamaladze’s lawyers and brother claim the decision is “absolutely groundless” and Judge Besik Bugianishvili is a “slave” of the current Georgian Dream leadership and some influential figures in the Georgian patriarchate.

“The trial confirmed there is no fair court in Georgia,” Mamaladze’s lawyer Mikheil Ramishvili said and announced the verdict would be appealed.

Metropolitan Petre, who has stated Mamaladze was a victim of high-ranking spiritual figures and the Patriarch’s Secretary, called the process a “Pilate’s court.”

The prosecution admits there are still questions which need to be answered in the case (it has not, for example, been established where Mamaladze purchased the cyanide), but they say the principle charge that the detainee wanted to use the substance for committing a murder had been confirmed.

Prosecutor Jarji Tsiklauri says the prosecution could provide all the necessary evidence to prove Mamaladze was guilty.

“The fact that we managed to prove the detainee was guilty was confirmed by the judge’s decision,” Tsiklauri said.

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.

At that time the Patriarch was in Germany, where he was operated on for bladder-related complications.

Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze said that Mamaladze had attempted to acquire cyanide, and the man from whom he tried to receive the substance (journalist Irakli Mamaladze, the detained archpriest’s close friend and relative) informed the police that the archpriest intended to kill a “high ranking spiritual figure.”

The Office did not say that the person whose murder was allegedly planned was necessarily the Patriarch. However, the Office’s silence for several days and unconfirmed information generated speculation that the target was Patriarch Ilia.

Suspicion grew when Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated that the country had “avoided a huge tragedy.”

Only after several days did the Office stated that the alleged target was the Patriarch’s female secretary Shorena Tetruashvili, and also released a video footage in which Mamaladze spoke about Tetruashvili in a negative context.

He is also heard to say that Tetruashvili is an influential figure in the patriarchate who represents an obstacle for his career.

Mamaladze’s lawyers and family claim the man is innocent and the footage was fabricated.

Some members of the church 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 Patriarch’s secretary Tetruashvili as a “key wrongdoer” and Archbishop Jacob.

The detained archpriest, who was temporarily deprived of the title by the holy synod, claimed Tetruashvili asked him to purchase the cyanide to clean icons.

Mamaladze demanded that the trials be open, as he stated he had “nothing to hide.”

However, the Chief Prosecutor’s office demanded the complete closure of the trials due to “personal life videos in the case,” and the judge accepted the appeal.

Mamaladze and his three lawyers left the trial in protest after the full closure.