21 February 2017, 19:12
Georgian prosecutors, Church could probe arrested deacon jointly - Patriarch of Georgia
Tbilisi, February 21, Interfax - The arrest of a Georgian Deacon Giorgi Mamaladze has prompted social unrest, the case could be investigated jointly by prosecutors and the Church, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia said.
"The history of the Georgian Church does not remember a case like this. It is not just a problem of the Church, it is a problem of the people and the state," he said at a meeting with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Holy Synod members on Tuesday. The patriarch was quoted by the Georgian media.
The events in Georgia have already prompted interest abroad, the patriarch said. "So we must help, there has to be a joint inquiry by the state and the Church. The people need to be given answers, the people are worried," the catholicos-patriarch said.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday Mamaladze's lawyers said they wanted to meet with the patriarch.
The lawyers would like to meet with the patriarch to register their position, lawyer Mikheil Ramiashvili said.
Last week the Georgian Prosecutor General's Office announced the arrest of the head of the patriarchy's property management department at Tbilisi's airport on February 10 just as he was about to fly to Germany. Inside his personal luggage, law enforcement officers found the poisonous substance cyanide. The deacon was charged with an attempt to murder a top-hierarchy cleric.
Deacon Mamaladze strongly rejects the charges brought against him. His new lawyer Mikheil Ramishvili told reporters that the Prosecutor General's Office charged his client with the attempted murder of the patriarch's assistant Shorena Tetruashvili. The lawyer also said that the Prosecutor General's Office should prove that the cyanide discovered belonged to Mamaladze, because the deacon's luggage was brought to him for identification 6 hours and 40 minutes after his detention.
The situation involving Mamaladze caused a public debate between high-ranking clergymen, who accused each other of attempts to influence the patriarch, aged 84. Georgian politicians also got involved in the discord within the church, and some of them said that the dispute between high-ranking clergymen actually centers on the nomination of a candidate for the post of patriarch.
In his video address from the Berlin clinic last week, the patriarch called the situation with the detention of Deacon Mamaladze "strange" and "abnormal."