Georgian priest charged with conspiracy to murder senior cleric
14 February, 2017
 Georgian priest charged with conspiracy to murder senior cleric
Prosecutors in Georgia have charged a high-ranking priest with conspiracy to murder after he was found to have attempted to fly out to visit the country’s religious leader with cyanide in his baggage, The Guardian reports.

Deacon Giorgi Mamaladze was detained at Tbilisi airport on 10 February, Georgia’s prosecutor general, Irakli Shotadze, told journalists on Monday.


Shotadze said Mamaladze, director of the property department of the Georgian Orthodox Church, had been on his way to Germany to meet with the
ageing Georgian Orthodox patriarch, Ilia II, who is recuperating from gall-bladder surgery in Berlin. Police also reportedly found firearms at the priest’s home.

The alleged scandal has shaken the small, deeply religious country, which claims to have been the second nation to adopt Christianity in the fourth century.

“We avoided a huge disaster. A crime against our country, a perfidious attack on our church, has been prevented,” the Georgian prime minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, said on Monday, Interfax news agency reported.

Kvirikashvili said he had sent the head of his personal security and a group of agents to Germany to protect the patriarch, who in the past has offered to baptise any infant born to parents of more than two children, sparking a baby boom.

The 84-year-old patriarch has recently suffered from poor health, and was supported by a bodyguard when Pope Francis visited him in Tbilisi in September.

Shotadze did not name the highly placed church official he alleged Mamaladze had been plotting to kill. But his statement came after Rustavi 2 television reported on Sunday night that there may have been an attempt to poison Ilia II.

Shotadze said the investigation had started after an acquaintance claimed that Mamaladze had asked him for cyanide in exchange for money and other “illegal benefits”.

Archbishop Andria, speaking to Rustavi 2 about the arrest, said “any such action by a priest is unbelievable”. Archpriest Shio Paichadze said he did not believe the accusations, recalling that Mamaladze had had a close relationship with the patriarch.

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, a prominent voice in the Russian Orthodox Church, told the National News Service on Monday he believed there was a “political subtext” to the apparent attempt on Ilia II’s life, which he said could be an attempt to pressure the influential Georgian Orthodox Church.

If convicted, Mamaladze, who is also head of the St Anne and Joachim medical centre, could face up to 15 years in prison, the article reads.
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