Georgia wants diplomat tried at home
January 16, 1997
Web posted at: 9:30 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Georgian government is seeking to have a diplomat returned to Tblisi to stand trial for the death of a 16-year-old girl in a Washington car crash, CNN learned Thursday.
Georgia is willing to have a U.S. prosecutor participate, but wants Gueorgui Makharadze -- the former Soviet republic's No. 2 diplomat in Washington -- tried at home for whatever charges might be filed in connection with the deadly crash.
Police have said they suspect that Makharadze, 35, was drunk and traveling as fast as 80 mph when the multi-vehicle crash occurred late January 3, not far from Embassy Row in Washington. Joviane Waltrick, 16, of Kensington, Maryland, was killed.
The U.S. attorney in Washington has said evidence supports seeking charges against Makharadze ranging from negligent homicide to second-degree murder.
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has declared his willingness to waive Makharadze's diplomatic immunity. If diplomatic immunity were not waived, the diplomat could have returned to Tbilisi without facing charges or standing trial.
The move by Shevardnadze -- the former Soviet foreign minister -- is rare, if not unprecedented. The United States in the past has used diplomatic immunity to protect its own diplomats who have been engaged in incidents involving the death of a citizen of a host government.
Meanwhile, Georgian Ambassador to the United States Tedo Djaparidze, who had told CNN he would sit for an interview Thursday, has changed his mind and declined to be interviewed for the time being.
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