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Senior Prosecutors Censured After Sarkisian Criticism


Armenia - Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian chairs a meeting in Yerevan, 20Jul2012.

Armenia - Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian chairs a meeting in Yerevan, 20Jul2012.

Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian ordered disciplinary proceedings against three other senior prosecutors on Tuesday in an apparent response to harsh criticism of his law-enforcement agency voiced by President Serzh Sarkisian.

A statement by Hovsepian’s press office said the chief prosecutors of Yerevan and the city’s Kanaker-Zeytun district as well as the deputy chief prosecutor of the southeastern Syunik province are facing disciplinary action for unspecified violations.

The statement also announced two high-level appointments in the Office of the Prosecutor-General. It gave no reasons for them.

Another senior prosecutor, Mesrop Manrikian, was relieved of his duties on Thursday, more than five months after being accused of beating up a man in a street dispute in Yerevan.

These developments are clearly linked with Sarkisian’s emergency meeting on October 29 with Hovsepian and his high-ranking subordinates. The president accused prosecutors of covering up crimes, fabricating accusations against innocent people and committing other serious abuses. He issued the powerful law-enforcement body with what the presidential press office called “instructions to rectify the situation.”

The leadership of the Office of the Prosecutor-General met on Saturday to discuss the extraordinary criticism. Hovsepian warned the prosecutors that he will not put with any attempts to “distort” criminal investigations. “Every decision made by a prosecutor must be explicable within the framework of the law and understandable to the people in terms of justice,” he said.

Sarkisian’s criticism has been dismissed by Armenian opposition as a publicity stunt designed to boost his chances of winning next February’s presidential election. They say that the incumbent has long been aware of abuses committed by his security apparatus and has no intention to tackle them in earnest.
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