Georgian Orthodox Church caught in 'poisoning plot'

Deacon Giorgi Mamaladze, the head of the property department of the Georgian Orthodox Church, was travelling to the German capital, Berlin.

TBILISI, DFWatch-An archpriest in the Georgian Orthodox Church was arrested at Tbilisi airport, accused of trying to poison a person in "the Church's highest hierarchy" with cyanide. The priest allegedly promised money and "unlawful benefits" in exchange.

"As it turned out, Mamaladze planned to leave for Germany, where the patriarch is undergoing medical treatment, and he needed the poisonous substance before departure", Shotadze said.

Speaking to reporters, chief prosecutor Irakli Shotadze confirmed the arrest of Mamaladze but refused to be drawn on who the priests intended victim allegedly was. "The investigation established that Mamaladze had been preparing the murder of a person and that was why he had bought from an unknown person the poisonous substance cyanide", Sputnik cited Shotadze as saying.

Patriarch Ilia, 84, has run the Georgian Orthodox Church since 1977. "A search of his apartment led to the discovery of a firearm and cartridges". "The Prosecutor's Office launched an immediate investigation", Shotadze said.

Shotadze said Mamaladze asked someone who was not identified to sell him cyanide.

He added that upon receiving the information about the alleged preparation of the crime, he phoned Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, following which guards from the State Security Service of Georgia were sent to Germany to bolster the Patriarch's security.

The conservative Georgian Orthodox Church - followed by more than 80 percent of the 4.5 million population - is one of several distinct Eastern Orthodox Churches, which also include the Greek and Russian Churches.

If Mamaladze is found guilty, he could face up to 15 years in prison.

  • Carolyn Briggs