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Priest's Arrest and Allegations of Assassination Plot Rock Georgian Church

Ilia II, patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, in an undated photo. (photo: Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church)

The arrest of a senior Georgian Orthodox priest accused of plotting to poison an unnamed high level church official has roiled the country, where the church plays an outsized role in politics and society.

The priest in question, Giorgi Mamaladze, was arrested on February 10 moments before boarding a flight to Germany, where the ailing, 84-year-old Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II is recovering from a bladder procedure -- leading to rampant speculation that the patriarch was the would-be assassin's intended target. According to a statement from Georgia’s Office of the State Prosecutor, Mamaladze was caught with cyanide in his baggage:

The investigation began on February 2, based on information from a citizen who informed the prosecutor's office that his acquaintance Giorgi Mamaladze had asked for the lethal poison cyanide because he wanted to murder a cleric at the highest level of the hierarchy.

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Priest's Arrest and Allegations of Assassination Plot Rock Georgian Church

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