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Ex-Police Chief Denies Role In Colleague’s Arrest


Armenia - Police chief Alik Sargsian talks to protesters outside the government building in Yerevan, 01Sep2011.

Armenia - Police chief Alik Sargsian talks to protesters outside the government building in Yerevan, 01Sep2011.

Alik Sargsian, the former chief of the Armenian police, on Tuesday flatly denied that he was instrumental in the arrest and prosecution of one of his former high-ranking subordinates.

Margar Ohanian, who managed the national traffic police, claimed at his ongoing trial on Monday he was jailed on corruption charges because of falling out with Sargsian in April last year. Ohanian said he openly objected to personnel changes made by his former boss and had other disagreements with the latter. He said Sargsian ordered a financial inspection of the traffic police before helping to fabricate the criminal case against him.

“His testimony does not correspond to reality,” Sargsian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I never had problems with him. The whole [police] system knows that.” He said all police units undergo audits on a regular basis and Ohanian’s department could not have been an exception.

Ohanian was arrested and sacked last September in a criminal investigation into the alleged embezzlement of more than 150 tons of fuel that was allotted to road police cars. The case against him is based on incriminating testimony given by his former subordinates.

Throughout the investigation conducted by Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) Ohanian denied the charges, saying that he is not responsible for the alleged embezzlement. Accordingly, he pleaded not guilty to the accusations at the start of his trial in early January. He claimed that he “turned from a witness into a suspect” after a single phone call to SIS investigators allegedly made by a high-ranking state official. He did not name that official at the time.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service later in January, Sargsian urged a Yerevan court holding the trial to free Ohanian pending a verdict in the case.

The former national police chief, who is now an adviser to President Serzh Sarkisian, refused to reaffirm this appeal on Tuesday. “Let him be held answerable before the law.” he said of the defendant. “I don’t want to say anything anymore.”
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