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Georgia’s Public Defender Issues Statement About Cyanide Attack Case

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, November 16
(TBILISI) -- Georgia’s Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili released his preliminary findings about a cyanide case involving a clergyman who was given a nine-year prison sentence for the attempted murder of Patriarch Ilia II’s female secretary.

Nanuashvili stated that the case “was of high public interest,” though the investigation and trials were conducted without public oversight.

“The Public Defender's Office was the only neutral body that monitored the trials,” said Nanuashvili.

Nanuashvili said statements made by representatives of the authorities in relation to Giorgi Mamaladze, the priest found guilty of the crime, “violated the principle on the presumption of innocence.”

“Statements by public officials contributed to the creation of prejudice against Mamaladze long before his conviction,” Nanuashvili said.

He added that the defense team worked under “unfair conditions” due to being forced not to disclose the details of the case, which according to Nanuashvili, did not serve the goals of procedural legislation and were “superfluous and unnecessarily restricted.”

“Tbilisi City Court and the Court of Appeals did not allow the defense to obtain airport camera recordings, which would be key pieces of evidence in this case. As a result, the defense was deprived of the opportunity to appoint several investigators to the case,” Nanuashvili said.

The court said Mamaladze’s motive for the attempted murder was “personal revenge.”

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

In early February, Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor announced that they had detained Mamaladze, the deputy head of the Patriarchate’s Property Management Service and director general of the Patriarchate’s medical center, at Tbilisi International Airport. According to the prosecution, he intended to flee to Germany on February 10.

Ilia II was in Germany at the time to undergo an operation for bladder-related complications.

Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze said that Mamaladze had attempted to acquire cyanide from a close friend and distant relative, journalist Irakli Mamaladze, who informed the police that the former priest intended to kill a “high ranking spiritual figure.”

Suspicion about who Mamaladze planned to murder grew when Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated that the country had “avoided a huge tragedy.”

Later, the Prosecutor’s office stated that the alleged target was Ilia II’s secretary, Shorena Tetruashvili. After some time, a video emerged of Mamaladze speaking about Tetruashvili in a negative light and calling her “an obstacle in his career.”

Mamaladze’s lawyers and family claimed the footage was fabricated.

Some members of the church, including Archbishop Petre, stated that Mamaladze had information about various financial and property-related violations within the church, which could have become the reason why he was “trapped by some people involved in illegalities, both from the church and the authorities.”

Archbishop Petre named Tetruashvili along with another archbishop as “key players” in the wrongdoings.

The Chief Prosecutor’s office demanded that the trials be closed to the public.