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Georgia Envoy Loses Immunity in Fatal Crash

<i> From Associated Press</i>

In a rare move, the Republic of Georgia lifted immunity for the second-ranking diplomat in its Washington embassy, clearing the way for his arrest in a fatal car crash, the State Department said Saturday.

Gueorgui Makharadze could be charged with crimes reportedly as serious as involuntary manslaughter in the death of 16-year-old Joviane Waltrick.

“This is an unusual case,” State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said. “There are very few instances in diplomatic history where a government has lifted diplomatic immunity in a case like this, where the charges are so serious.

The case has drawn immense public interest in the Washington area since the Jan. 3 crash in the city center.

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Makharadze’s car slammed into the back of another car, and the impact sent the second car into the air and onto a third vehicle in which the Waltrick girl was a passenger.

She died at a local hospital. Police said Makharadze, 35, had been drinking and appeared to have been speeding.


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