Grenade Thrower Meant To Kill Bush

People stand in Freedom Square in Tbilisi when U.S. President George W. Bush, unseen, prepares to speak in Tbilisi, Georgia, in this May 10, 2005 file photo released by the Georgian Interior Ministry. A red arrow points at the suspect Vladimir Arutyunian, arrested on suspicion of throwing a grenade that landed near a podium where Bush was speaking during a May rally. The emblem at the red arrow is of Georgia's Interior Ministry.
AP
The man who has confessed to throwing a live grenade at President Bush during a rally in Georgia's capital says he hoped to kill the U.S. leader, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Authorities formally charged Vladimir Arutyunian with terrorism on Tuesday, Arutyunian's lawyer Guliko Dzhimsheladze told The Associated Press. Dzhimsheladze said her client admitted to illegally possessing weapons, but she did not mention his televised confessions to having thrown the grenade. The man wanted to murder Bush, she said.

"Arutyunian doesn't deny that he wanted to kill U.S. President George Bush. He explained the reason. My client believes that Bush is interfering in Georgia's internal affairs," she said.

"He maintains that this attempt on Bush's life should not be punished by law," she said of her client.

Arutyunian didn't want any Georgians to die in the attack, she said.

Both Mr. Bush and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili had been behind a bulletproof barrier addressing a rally of thousands in Tbilisi when the grenade landed about 100 feet away. It did not explode, and investigators later said it apparently had malfunctioned.

No one was harmed in the May grenade incident, but Arutyunian was charged earlier with killing a police officer in a shootout during his arrest, as well as illegal possession of weapons. He was shown on local television last week admitting throwing the grenade.

Georgian authorities, working with the FBI, were still trying to figure out Arutyunian's exact motives. Georgia's Interior Ministry said that Arutyunian was believed to have been a member of a political party that supports the former leader of a region largely outside central government control.

Aslan Abashidze, the former leader of the Adzharia region, fled to Russia last year amid street protests against his authoritarian rule. Mr. Bush had been visiting Georgia in an effort to cement relations between the United States and Georgia's new pro-Western leadership.