Georgian Press on Arrest of Bush Grenade Suspect
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 21 Jul.'05 / 11:13

In their front page articles, the leading Georgian newspapers are covering the arrest of a young man, whom Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili described as the “suspect” in the grenade throwing incident during U.S. President Bush’s speech in Tbilisi on May 10. But the size of the articles indicates that information is scarce about the suspect who has been arrested and the police operation, which resulted in death of one security official and the injury of the alleged suspect.

The daily 24 Saati (24 Hours) says that although the law enforcers are refraining from unveiling details of the case, there are some speculations about what happened in the Vashlijvari district of capital city Tbilisi, where the suspect lives.

“As it seems, the operation was unexpected even for the law enforcers. Several days ago [on July 18] the Interior Ministry issued photos of a person who allegedly tossed a grenade. A 150,000 Lari [USD 82,000] reward was announced for the citizen who could help in identifying this person. Reportedly, the police received numerous messages from citizens about the identity of the alleged suspect. The law enforcers started checking each bit of information. Three officials from the counter-terrorism center were dispatched to Vashlijvari district just to check one more message of this kind. According to this version, the law enforcers were not even planning a large-scale operation and their goal was just to verify the identity of Vladimer Arutunian,” the 24 Saati reported.

The daily Rezonansi (Resonance) also speculates that the law enforcers received information about Arutunian from one of his neighbors after the Interior Ministry issued the photos. But, according to the newspaper, some neighbors are doubtful about the fact that Arutunian is in fact the person on the picture which was issued by the Interior Ministry.

The paper also reports some details about the 27-year-old Arutunian and quotes several of his neighbors saying that the man lived together with his mother. “He always preferred to be isolated and was a very quiet person. His father died long ago. The family is very poor,” the Rezonansi quotes one of the neighbors.

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