A Georgian Orthodox priest, Giorgi Mamaladze, was arrested on 10 February under suspicion of planning the murder of a ‘high ranking cleric’.
Mamaladze is alleged to have attempted to poison a high ranking cleric with cyanide. The Identity of the cleric has not been confirmed by either law enforcement agencies or the Patriarchate, but major local media outlets have named the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, as the target of the attack.
According to the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia, Irakli Shotadze, the investigation of the case started on 2 February on the basis of a tipoff that Mamaladze had asked for help in obtaining a life threatening poisonous substance — cyanide — which he planned to use to poison a high ranking cleric.
The Prosecutor’s Office explained that Mamaladze was planning to travel to Germany, where the Patriarch is receiving medical care in Helios Berlin Buch Clinic. The Patriarch underwent a gallbladder operation on 13 February and is in stable condition. The operation was not connected with the alleged attempted poisoning.
Mamaladze was arrested in Tbilisi International Airport as he was about to board a flight to Berlin, but his arrest was not made public until three days later. Sodium cyanide was found during a search of his luggage. According to Shotadze, an improvised firearm and 6 bullets were also found during a search of Mamaladze’s house.
An investigation is ongoing for attempted murder (article 18-108 of the criminal code of Georgia), which is punishable by imprisonment of up to 15 years, and for unauthorised possession of a firearm (article 236), punishable by up to three years.
According to public polls, the Georgian Orthodox Church is by far the most credible public institution in predominantly Orthodox Georgia, and the Patriarch is widely considered to be one of the most respected, influential, and powerful public figures in the country.