By Emil Danielyan
An assistant to Armenia’s Deputy Prosecutor-General Mnatsakan Sargsian has been sacked after allegedly kidnapping and attempting to kill a man with whom was locked in a dispute over a Yerevan apartment, officials said on Tuesday.
The man, Shavarsh Gharibian, claims that the law-enforcement official, Mher Baghdasarian, lured him to a villa just outside Yerevan last Wednesday and kept him there overnight with the help of two accomplices. Gharibian says they beat and intimidated him for hours in a bid to force him to relinquish ownership of the apartment which his father purchased from another person in 2005.
Baghdasarian, who had owned the apartment in the past, has challenged the legality of the deal in court, demanding that the property located in the city center be given back to him. The lenghty court battle was eventually won by the Gharibians, with Armenia’s Court of Cassation declaring them the rightful owners of the apartment on July 7. The alleged kidnapping occurred just days after they asked court bailiffs to enforce the ruling.
Gharibian says the kidnappers forced him to sign a statement saying that Baghdasarian paid him $135,000 for the apartment and to tell his father by phone to quickly formalize its handover to the law-enforcement official through a notary’s office. He says that after his father refused to do that they drove him out of the villa and tried to kill him on a roadside 30 kilometers north of Yerevan. The kidnappers are alleged to have left him there and fled the scene after attracting the attention of other people driving by.
Gharibian filed a report to the police department of the central Kotayk region later on Thursday. The opposition daily “Haykakan Zhamanak” published a front-page picture of Gharibian’s injured head and an extensive article about the incident two days later. The businessman told the paper that he decided to publicize the incident because he felt that the police are in no rush to track down his fugitive attackers.
In a statement, the Office of the Prosecutor-General said Baghdasarian was dismissed on Monday “on the basis” of Gharibian’s allegations and is facing accusations of kidnapping, extortion and armed assault. It said law-enforcement authorities are taking “all necessary measures” to locate and detain the assistant prosecutor.