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GEORGIA RECALLS DIPLOMAT INVOLVED IN FATAL CRASH.

Byline: The New York Times

The Republic of Georgia quietly informed the United States on Thursday that it planned to recall the diplomat stationed at its embassy in Washington who was involved in an automobile crash that killed a 16-year-old girl last week, an administration official said.

The decision came a day after the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Eric H. Holder Jr., announced that there was enough evidence to press criminal charges against the diplomat, Gueorgui Makharadze. Holder's office found that the police evidence from the Jan. 3 crash strongly suggested that Makharadze had been drinking and driving too fast.

That determination prompted the State Department to ask formally on Thursday that Georgia waive the diplomatic immunity protecting Makharadze, the second-ranking diplomat in the republic's embassy here, from having to face trial in the case.

Georgia announced its intention to recall Makharadze in a formal diplomatic note delivered to the American Embassy in the republic's capital, Tbilisi, the administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. It did so even as Foreign Minister Irakly Menagarishvili told reporters in Tbilisi that the government would not withdraw the diplomat until the investigation into the crash was completed.

``We think a person should carry responsibility for their crimes,'' Menagarishvili said.

It was not clear when Makharadze would leave the United States, but the official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the State Department had ``every reason to believe'' it would be soon. The official said Makharadze had already left Washington for New York City and, presumably, an international flight out of the United States.

In what a spokesman called an unusual step, the State Department summoned Georgia's ambassador, Tedo Djaparidze, on Thursday afternoon and made the formal request for a waiver of diplomatic immunity even before receiving a final report from the U.S. attorney's office, as is the normal procedure. The ambassador did not indicate a response.

The spokesman, Nicholas Burns, said Secretary of State Warren Christopher had also written to Georgia's president, Eduard Shevardnadze, outlining his concerns about the case and again requesting a waiver.

``Personally, Secretary Christopher feels very strongly that the Georgian government has some responsibility to consider the requests of the United States very seriously,'' Burns said.

Governments rarely waive immunity when their diplomats find themselves in legal trouble. In such cases, the only punishment is to prohibit the diplomat from entering the United States again.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 10, 1997
Words:403
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