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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 January 2006, 22:25 GMT
Georgian jailed for Bush attack
Vladimir Arutyunian
Vladimir Arutyunian paced his cage as the verdict was read out
A Georgian man has been sentenced to life in prison for throwing a grenade at a rally attended by US President George W Bush in Tbilisi last May.

Vladimir Arutyunian was found guilty on charges including terrorism, treason, attempted assassination and the killing of a police officer, the judge said.

The grenade landed 30m (100ft) from Mr Bush and the Georgian leader, who were standing behind bullet-proof glass.

It failed to go off because of a malfunction, said US officials.

The security scare marred Mr Bush's visit last May, which was aimed at showing support for President Mikhail Saakashvili's government, correspondents say.

I don't consider myself a terrorist, I'm just a human being
Vladimir Arutyunian

The presiding judge at the trial took four hours to read out the verdict, the BBC's Natalia Antelava reports from Tbilisi.

For the entire time, 27-year-old Arutyunian - guarded by five armed soldiers in masks - paced back and forth in a two-metre metal cage.

He stopped only when Judge David Dzhugeli said Arutyunian "was found guilty on eight charges from the criminal code and four of them demand the highest form of punishment".

'US puppet'

One of those charges related to the killing of a Georgian security officer during the operation to arrest Arutyunian in July.

The unemployed, single man was detained near the house he lived in with his mother in one of the poorest suburbs of Tbilisi.

Mikhail Saakashvili (left) and George W Bush in Tbilisi on 10 May
Mr Bush was addressing tens of thousands of people at the time

Police said they found an entire arsenal of weapons in his apartment, including hand grenades similar to the one he tossed at the two presidents.

After his arrest, the suspect was shown on television admitting from his hospital bed that he had thrown the grenade.

He also said he hated Georgia's new government for being a puppet of the US and did not regret what he did.

Arutyunian refused to testify in the course of the trial. His lawyer Liza Japaridze said he would appeal, Reuters news agency reports.

As he was led from court, he was asked by one journalist if he considered himself a terrorist or an anti-globalist.

"I don't consider myself a terrorist, I'm just a human being," he replied.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Vladimir Arutyunian hears his sentence behind bars



SEE ALSO:
Protecting the US president abroad
11 May 05 |  Americas
Bush praises Georgian democracy
10 May 05 |  Europe


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