A Georgian court ruled an Orthodox priest guilty Tuesday on charges of plotting to murder a church patriarch’s personal secretary and adviser with cyanide.
The court sentenced Giorgi Mamaladze to nine years in prison for attempting to murder Shorena Tetruasvhili, secretary to Patriarch Ilia II, the head of Georgia’s Orthodox Church, according to Christian Today.
Authorities, who initially suspected a plot to kill the patriarch, arrested Mamaladze in February on his way to Berlin, where Ilia was receiving medical treatment. They found sodium cyanide in the archpriest’s luggage.
“This was a treacherous attack on the Church. An act against our country has been prevented,” said Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili after Mamaladze’s arrest, according to Democracy & Freedom Watch.
Irakli Mamaladze, a journalist, told the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office that the archpriest asked him how he could obtain cyanide, corroborated by hidden camera footage of the incident.
Prosecutors accused Giorgi Mamaladze of targeting Tetruasvhili because she posed a threat to his career in the church. Petre Tsaava, an archbishop, openly accused Teruasvhili on Tuesday of corruption, being an agent of Russian interests within the church, and controlling church officials, according to Democracy & Freedom Watch.
Tetruasvhili denied the claim, and said the archbishop was likely referring to a different person.
The judge presiding over the case also made the unusual move of closing the trial off from the public and specifically denying The Public Defender of Georgia access to the trial proceedings and case information. The Public Defender, according to Georgian law, is tasked with the “protection of human rights and freedoms throughout Georgia, including in the judiciary system,” and “has the right to get acquainted with the confidential information, including information containing state secrets.”
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