July 21, 2005

Man ‘confesses’ to grenade attack during Bush visit

TBILISI (Reuters) - A man arrested in Georgia has confessed
to throwing a grenade during a speech by visiting President
Bush in May, authorities said on Thursday.

U.S. officials said at the time the grenade only failed to
explode because of a malfunction and landed within 30 meters
(100 feet) of Bush as he spoke to tens of thousands of people
in Tbilisi's Freedom Square.

The Georgian Interior Ministry released a tape made on
Thursday showing the suspect, identified only as Arutunyan,

Asked by an official whether he threw the grenade,
Arutunyan, who looked calm, replied: "Yes."

Deputy health minister Irakly Giorgobiani said: "Doctors,
who talked to (him) yesterday, said that he had confessed that
he had thrown a grenade. But they also said that he may not
have been in control of himself at the time."

Georgian police detained the man on Wednesday after a
special operation in which an anti-terrorism officer was killed
and the suspect wounded.

Giorgobiani told Rustavi-2 TV the suspect's condition was
now normal and there was no threat to his life.

Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili told a briefing the
investigation was continuing and that a reward of about $83,000
would be split between several people who helped the

The security scare marred Bush's trip to Georgia, intended
to show U.S. support for the West-leaning government that came
to power after a democratic revolution 20 months ago.

Officials said the grenade could have caused major injuries
in the close-packed crowd, the largest gathering of people on
the square since the "Rose Revolution" led by now-President
Mikhail Saakashvili.

The U.S. Embassy in Georgia said in a statement on Thursday
that co-operation on the case was "a model" for joint work by
law-enforcement agencies of the two countries.