Giorgi Mamaladze.

TBILISI, DFWatch–An archpriest in the Georgian Orthodox Church was arrested at Tbilisi airport, accused of trying to poison a person in ‘the Church’s highest hierarchy’ with cyanide.

Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze was arrested as he was trying to board a plane for Berlin with his luggage stashed with poison on February 10.

Mamaladze has been formally charged and a court has placed him in pre-trial detention. He pleaded not guilty.

The detainee was planning to poison an unidentified person in ‘the Church’s highest hierarchy’, with cyanide, the Chief Prosecutor stated at an urgent briefing on Monday. A statement was later posted online by the POG.

It is speculated that his target was Patriarch Ilia II, who was being treated at a hospital in Berlin on  Monday, undergoing laparoscopy for slight surgery on his bladder.

Catholicos Patriarch of Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, is the most popular person in the country according to opinion polls.

The Prosecutor’s Office (POG) has not yet stated whether the suspect planned to poison Patriarch Ilia, but Rustavi 2 TV reported earlier that the he was the target of the assassination attempt. Ilia II is being accompanied by several high ranking priests during his stay in Berlin.

POG was given information about the assassination plot by an unidentified informant who reported to the law enforcers that Mamaladze had been seeking to purchase poison.

Mamaladze holds a position as head of a hospital named after Saint Ioakime and Saint Ana, which belongs to the Patriarchy, a ruling body of the Georgian Orthodox Church. He was appointed as a deputy head of the Patriarchate’s Property Management Service about a year ago.