Deacon arrested for plotting to poison top Georgian cleric
Deacon Giorgi Mamaladze, left, Director of the Property Department of the Georgian Orthodox Church, has been charged with conspiracy to murder a top cleric.
Officials, according to the Guardian, suspect him of planning to kill Georgian patriarch, Ilia II, right, who is recuperating from gall-bladder surgery in Berlin.
Mamaladze, who is also the Director General of the Georgian Patriarchate’s Saint Joachim and Ana Medical Centre, was detained at Tbilisi airport on February 10 after he attempted to fly out to visit Ilia II with cyanide in his baggage, Georgia’s Prosecutor General, Irakli Shotadze, told journalists on yesterday (Monday).
Investigators found that Mamaladze, prior to his arrest, had been looking to buy cyanide “and was ready to pay a considerable sum of money for it“.
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.
The Georgian Prime Minister, Giorgi Kvirikashvili said:
We avoided a huge disaster. A crime against our country, a perfidious attack on our church, has been prevented.
Kvirikashvili said he had sent the head of his personal security and a group of agents to Germany to protect the patriarch, who 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.
But 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 could face up to 15 years in prison.