Georgian president to waive envoy's immunity
Diplomat could face homicide charges in U.S.
January 12, 1997
Web posted at: 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT)
TBILISI, Georgia (CNN) -- Georgian President Eduard
Shevardnadze on Sunday announced he has decided to waive the
diplomatic immunity of a high-ranking official involved in a
multiple-car accident in the United States that killed a
The president of the Eastern European nation said he was
guided by moral principle, not international politics, in
making the decision.
"Frankly, it was with grave feelings and a heavy heart that
I made the decision regarding the fate of the young and
doubtlessly talented diplomat, Georgy Makharadze," he said.
"I cannot imagine diplomacy and politics devoid of moral
Makharadze, 35, a minister at the Georgian Embassy in
Washington, was involved in a five-car crash on January 3
that killed 16-year-old Brazilian Jovianne Waltrick, who was
living in nearby Kensington, Maryland.
The U.S. attorney general's office has said Makharadze was
allegedly speeding and intoxicated at the time of the
accident and that it believed it had sufficient evidence to
The State Department on Thursday requested that Georgian
authorities lift Makharadze's diplomatic immunity so he could
stand trial. Also Thursday, the Georgian diplomat attempted
to leave the United States but was returned to Washington.
The United States has yet to bring formal charges against
Makharadze. But authorities have said action could occur
within the week.
Shevardnadze, who won respect in the West for his efforts to
end the Cold War as Soviet foreign minister under Mikhail
Gorbachev, also called for new rules governing
"Often, the mantle of the state succeeds in protecting the
diplomat while the average citizen ... suffers," he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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