The Tbilisi Court of Appeals upheld on February 13 a verdict delivered by the lower instance court against Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze, who was found guilty of plotting the murder of Shorena Tetruashvili, the Patriarch’s assistant, as well as of purchase and storage of firearms, and was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Mamaladze’s defense lawyers said that they would challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court. “There is no justice in our country. All I can say is that we will fight to the end, and apply to the Supreme Court. But I have no hopes, we pin hopes only on the European Court [of Human Rights],” Mikheil Ramishvili, Mamaladze’s defense lawyer, told reporters after the court hearing.
The prosecution plans to challenge the ruling as well. In a statement released on February 13, the chief prosecutor’s office explained that Giorgi Mamaladze was initially charged with plotting murder under aggravating circumstances” (Article 18-109 of the Criminal Code), while the Tbilisi City Court requalified the offense and found him guilty of “plotting murder,” a lighter offence under the criminal law.
Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze was arrested at the Tbilisi International Airport on February 10, 2017, but information on his arrest was disclosed three days later, after Georgian Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze held a special news briefing and said the Archpriest was charged with plotting a murder of “a high-ranking cleric.”
Although the Chief Prosecutor refrained from specifying Mamaladze’s target, he said the Archpriest was arrested before departing for Germany, where the Patriarch was undergoing medical treatment, prompting reports that Mamaladze intended to poison the Patriarch.
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili released a statement shortly after Shotadze’s briefing, thanking the law enforcement agencies for “acting promptly” and preventing “a treacherous attack on the Church, an act against the country.”
The PM’s statement reinforced the speculations that the suspect targeted the Georgian Patriarch, but the Prosecutor’s Office clarified on February 16 that the alleged murder plot did not involve Ilia II, Patriarch of Georgia’s Orthodox Church.