A U.S. businessman of Armenian descent was formally remanded in custody on Saturday pending trial on pedophilia charges which he strongly denies.
Serop Der-Boghossian, the owner of a mining company based in the northern Armenian town of Akhtala, was arrested last Wednesday following media reports that accused him of having sex local teenage boys. State prosecutors said he did that in return for cash and other “material assistance.”
Der-Boghossian, 68, was charged under Article 140 of the Armenian Criminal Code that carries up to three years’ imprisonment for sex crimes committed against persons of all ages.
Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS), which is conducting the criminal investigation, has so far not invoked the code’s Article 141 dealing with child molestation and sexual harassment of minors. Such crimes are punishable by prison sentences of up to two years.
Der-Boghosian, who was an adviser to Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian until recently, flatly denied the allegations before the arrest. In a February 3 statement, he said unnamed individuals are now trying to seize his Metal Prince company, Akhtala’s main employer, by ruining his reputation.
A district court in Yerevan dismissed these arguments as it allowed NSS investigators to keep Der-Boghossian under pre-trial arrest for two months.