By Karine Kalantarian
Armenia’s highest appeals court rejected on Friday appeals filed by the ArmenTel telecommunications monopoly on three separate cases involving unfair competition, arbitrary dismissal and a property dispute.
The Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that threw out the Greek-owned company’s protest against the government’s decision last March to fine it for abusing its legal monopoly on telecom services in Armenia.
The government’s Commission on the Protection of Economic Competition had ruled that the company’s decision obligating customers to buy handsets for prepaid phone cards only from ArmenTel violates the country’s anti-trust legislation. The company was fined 5 million drams ($8,800) and ordered to allow buyers to return their phones.
ArmenTel was also ordered Friday to pay a resident of a village near Yerevan 9 million drams in compensatory damages. The villager, Abraham Martirosian, had sued the telecom giant earlier this year for laying a telephone cable through his vineyard without asking his permission. A local court of first instance backed his claims in a ruling which the company found unfair.
In a further blow to ArmenTel, the appeals court ruled to reinstate a company employee fired earlier this year in uncertain circumstances. The employee worked as a cashier in ArmenTel’s branch in the northern city of Vanadzor.
ArmenTel will soon face more legal actions from the country’s leading providers of Internet connection which have accused it of abusing its monopoly.