Tbilisi, September 6, 2017
His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia believes that Archpriest George Mamaladze, sentenced to 9 years in prison yesterday for premeditated attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms, could not have committed such a crime, reports interpressnews.ge.
Fr. George was arrested on February 10 at the Tbilisi airport with cyanide found in his luggage, intending to fly to Berlin where Patriarch Ilia was undergoing gallbladder surgery. This led to initial reports suggesting that the patriarch himself was the actual target, although it later became clear that his secretary, Shorena Tetruashvili, who had also been in Berlin, was the alleged target.
According to the patriarch’s nephew, Metropolitan Dimitri of Batumi and Lazeti, the patriarch personally told him just a few days ago that Fr. George was not the kind of person to commit such a crime. Speaking at a press conference in Batumi, the metropolitan noted that he had not spoken with the patriarch since Fr. George’s conviction, but that he “spoke with the patriarch a few days ago. He directly said that Fr. George would not commit this crime.”
The patriarch has maintained a consistent stance regarding Fr. George, stating in February, “I have known Fr. George for a long time and have never heard about him or seen from him anything but good.”
For his part, Met. Dimitri believes Fr. George is “somewhat guilty,” but that many questions still surround the issue of the cyanide. He noted that, although a guilty verdict was handed down, the Prosecutor’s Office failed to answer many questions.
“The cyanide case is totally vague. Now I have more suspicion that Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze did not buy cyanide at all. The Prosecutor's Office would necessarily show us the moment of buying, if it had it. They have recorded so many details and tens of hours of conversation with Irakli Mamaladze,” the metropolitan stated.
Prosecutors earlier stated that Fr. George’s detention was based on a video made by his relative Irakli Mamaldze, supposedly confirming that he was seeking to acquire cyanide and to use it against Tetruashvili, because in controlling matters in the patriarchate, she was supposedly hindering Fr. George’s career.
Met. Dimitri stated that when visiting Germany, he had heard a completely different story about how the cyanide made its way to the border. However, despite having many lingering questions, he does not believe the archpriest is wholly innocent. “The fact that I have some questions with the Prosecutor's Office does not mean that Archpriest George Mamaladze is innocent. He is somewhat guilty, but there are too many questions about the cyanide,” he said.
The metropolitan also announced at the press conference that he plans to visit Fr. George in prison. “I’m going to meet him as we've had relationship for years. His actions have somewhat affected this relationship, but our main goal is to forgive people. Father George does not have a sense of regret yet, but he will probably have it,” the hierarch stated.