A man arrested after a fatal shootout with police has admitted to throwing a grenade during a May speech by President Bush, a Georgian official said Thursday.
The suspect made the admission in the hospital where he is being treated for wounds suffered in the shootout that erupted when police tried to arrest him late Wednesday, Deputy Health Minister Irakly Giorgobiani told Rustavi-2 television Thursday.
Bush and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili were on the podium in front of a massive crowd in downtown Tbilisi when the grenade was thrown. The live grenade landed less than 100 feet from the podium but did not explode.
A preliminary investigation indicated the activation device deployed too slowly to hit the blasting cap hard enough, the FBI said.
One policeman was killed Wednesday in the shootout in a village on the outskirts of the capital Tbilisi. The suspect, Vladimir Arutyunian, fled into a nearby woods. He was captured about an hour later and taken to a hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds.
The police operation came two days after authorities released a photograph of a man suspected of throwing the grenade.
Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili also had announced a reward of about $80,000 for information leading to the identification of the man, who was shown with dark hair and dark glasses.
Saakashvili, who came to power after the 2003 Rose Revolution that ousted Eduard Shevardnadze, has provoked enmity with his anti-corruption initiatives and insistence on restoring control over two separatist regions.