A court has found a Georgian priest guilty of trying to murder the personal secretary and adviser of Patriach, Ilia II, the head of the country's Orthodox Church.
Giorgi Mamaladze was sentenced to nine years in prison yesterday, according to OC Media.
Mamaladze was arrested in February as he was about to travel to Berlin. According to the Georgian Prosecutor's Office, sodium cyanide was concealed in his luggage. Early reports suggested Ilia, who was receiving medical treatment there, was his target. However, he was charged with attempting to murder the Patriarch's secretary-referent, Shorena Tetruasvhili.
Mamaladze was charged with 'plotting a murder with mercenary purposes' after a journalist, Irakli Mamaladze, told the Prosecutor's Office that Giorgi Mamaladze had asked for his help in obtaining cyanide. Hidden camera footage showed the archpriest asking the journalist: 'Is it possible to get cyanide?'
The trial has been controversial, with Tbilisi-based rights group the Human Rights Centre objecting to the closure of the hearing to the public. Archbishop Petre Tsaava of the Chkondidi diocese accused Tetruasvhili of being an instrument of Russian influence in the Georgian Church and of controlling high-ranking officials there, according to Democracy and Freedom Watch. She has denied the claims. Prosecutors claimed Mamaladze viewed her as an obstacle to his career.