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Georgia: Diplomat To Plead Not Guilty

Washington, 20 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Georgian diplomat Gueorgui Makharadze plans to say he is not guilty when he appears before a judge in Washington later today to answer a main charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Makharadze's lawyer Kirby Behre told our Washington correspondent that Makharadze will definitely enter a "not guilty" plea.

Kirby said he is hopeful Makharadze will walk out of the courtroom a free man on bail and not be incarcerated while waiting for trial.

Makhardaze is currently in a city jail waiting to appear in court. He surrendered to U.S. authorities earlier today to face criminal charges stemming from a fatal car accident he is accused of causing last month.

Police said Makharadze was driving at a speed of more than 150 kilometers an hour through the city after drinking and crashed into another car causing a five-vehicle pile-up. A 16-year-old girl was killed and four others were injured in the accident.