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Diplomatic immunity waived for Georgian involved in fatal crash

February 15, 1997

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. (AP) _ The republic of Georgia has waived diplomatic immunity for a Washington-based diplomat implicated in a deadly car crash, the State Department said today.

The next step in the legal process facing George Makharadze is for the Justice Department to file formal charges, spokesman Nicholas Burns said. The State Department will transmit Georgia’s official notification to Justice on Tuesday, he said.

Makharadze’s car slammed into two cars waiting at a downtown Washington stoplight on Jan. 3. A 16-year-old Maryland girl, Joviane Waltrick, died when Makharadze’s car smashed on top of the one in which she was a passenger. Police said Makharadze, 35, had been drinking and appeared to have been speeding.

Notified today of the waiver, Michael Poor, a spokesman for Waltrick’s family, said, ``Excellent!″

He said he has notified the family. The girl’s mother, a Brazilian immigrant, has campaigned since the accident to force a decision in the case.

In announcing the waiver of immunity, Burns expressed the State Department’s appreciation to Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze ``for this courageous action.″

Burns made the announcement before boarding an airplane taking Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to Rome on the first stop of a round-the-world trip.

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