Armenian law-enforcement authorities have launched criminal proceedings against a former regional governor which could land him in prison for up to four years.
The Special Investigative Service (SIS) said late on Tuesday that Vardges Hovakimian, who controversially resigned as governor of the southern Ararat province last year, has been charged with abuse of power, fraud and negligence.
Law-enforcement sources told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Wednesday that Hovakimian stands accused of failing to ensure proper oversight of expenditures carried out by the provincial administration. They said more than $70,000 worth of public funds were misused as a result.
The sources also claimed that Hovakimian helped one of his cronies secure a lease on 30 hectares of agricultural land in Ararat through a bogus official document submitted to a local community.
The 56-year-old ex-governor, who was not placed under pre-trial trial, could not be reached for comment. It is not clear whether he will plead guilty to the charges carrying up to four years’ imprisonment.
A senior member of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party, Hovakimian tendered his resignation in July last year. He said he was forced to quit because of a criminal case against his son Vahe which he claimed was “fabricated” by Alik Sargsian, the chief of the Armenian police.
The case stemmed from a brawl in the regional capital Artashat. According to the Armenian police, Vahe Hovakimian clashed with another young man outside a local restaurant believed to be owned by Sargsian. The latter is a native of Ararat who governed the region before being appointed as national police chief in 2008.
In a separate development, Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian to sack Gurgen Martirosian, the mayor of the eastern town of Gavar.
Martirosian was accused earlier this year of trying to help two of his relatives evade prosecution for a murder attempt. He risked up to three years in prison on murder cover-up charges leveled against him.
The prosecutors dropped the case against the mayor last week, citing a general amnesty declared by the Armenian authorities in May.