By Karine Kalantarian
A Syrian national of Armenian descent will go on trial in Yerevan Tuesday on charges of attempting to enter the United States with a fake Armenian passport and other forged documents.
The man, identified by law-enforcement authorities as Bedros Garabed, was arrested and charged with fraud after allegedly submitting them to the U.S. consulate in Yerevan last August. Also facing prosecution are six citizens of Armenia who are accused of helping him obtain the documents. Two of them are also kept in pre-trial detention.
Law-enforcement sources divulged some details of the case to RFE/RL on Monday, saying that Garabed had been expelled from the U.S. and sought to re-enter the country as an Armenian citizen. They said the forged papers included a bogus bank account as well as marriage and birth, marriage and property ownership certificates.
Garabed also falsely claimed to be affiliated with the Armenian Ecological Fund, a non-governmental organization, they said. The chairman of the fund, Armenak Dovlatian, will also face trial for certifying that with a relevant statement.
It was not immediately clear whether Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General was informed of the alleged forgery by U.S. consular officials in Yerevan.
Garabed’s defense lawyer, Robert Grigorian, said his client, who is a doctor by training, will plead guilty to only one of the two accusations levelled against him. “He had no participation in the creation and production of any forged documents,” Grigorian told RFE/RL. “He only ordered them.”
“He was told that there is a positive attitude towards Armenia in the United States, that Armenian citizens are not suspected of terrorism there, and that he will find it easier to get a U.S. visa as an Armenian citizen,” added the lawyer.
(Photolur photo: The U.S. embassy in Yerevan.)