GEORGIAN COURT SENTENCES BUSH ASSAILANT. The Tbilisi City Court sentenced Vladimir Arutiunian to life imprisonment on 11 January on charges of murder and an attempted act of terrorism, Caucasus Press and Reuters reported. Arutiunian threw a hand grenade in the direction of U.S. President George W. Bush and his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili while the two men were addressing thousands of Georgians in Tbilisi in May 2005, and shot dead a Georgian police officer during the operation to apprehend him in late July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 May and 21 and 22 July 2005). Arutiunian pled not guilty to the charges of murder and attempted terrorism, admitting only to having stolen an identity document in order to obtain a mobile phone number. He claimed the charges against him were politically motivated, and declined to testify, saying he will speak only after meeting with representatives of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. His lawyer, Lizi Djaparidze, said she will appeal the sentence, Caucasus Press reported. Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili said two persons who provided the information that led to Arutiunian's arrest will share the 150,000 lari ($83,885) reward for his capture, Caucasus Press reported on 12 January. Their names will be made public only at their request. The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi released a statement welcoming Arutiunian's conviction following what it termed "a balanced and fair trial," Caucasus Press reported on 12 January. LF (RFE/RL Newsline - 01/12/2006)
FBI AGENTS TESTIFY AT A TRIAL OF GEORGIAN ASSASSIN
Axis News Dec. 10, 2005
FBI officers testified at the trial of a man accused of throwing a hand grenade at the presidents of the United States and Georgia, George W. Bush and Mikheil Saakashvili, during a 10 May public appearance in Tbilisi, RFE/RL reported. Georgian State Prosecutor Anzor Kvariani said the six US agents explained why they believed the exploding device did not go off. He gave no further details. The defendant is a 27-year-old ethnic Armenian resident of Tbilisi. Vladimir Arutyunian was arrested in July following a shoot-out that left one Georgian policeman dead.
Georgian authorities have released police videos showing Arutyunian purportedly confessing to throwing the grenade with a view to harming Bush. But Arutyunian has so far refused to testify at his trial, saying he would do so only in the presence of Western human rights campaigners. The defendant faces life imprisonment.
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