A fugitive nephew of former President Serzh Sarkisian accused of illegal arms possession and drug trafficking faces extradition to Armenia after being arrested in the Czech Republic last week.
The man, Narek Sarkisian, fled Armenia shortly before his family’s villa in Yerevan was searched by the National Security Service (NSS) in early July.
The NSS claimed that the 37-year-old had asked one of his friends to hide his illegally owned guns, cocaine and other drugs in a safer place. It released a video showing two suitcases purportedly filled with those items.
The Armenian police reported last week that Czech law-enforcement authorities have tracked down Sarkisian in Prague. A police statement said that during the arrest he produced a fake Guatemalan passport identifying him as Franklin Gonzalez.
A spokesman for the Czech capital’s police department, Jan Danek, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Tuesday that Sarkisian was detained on December 6 on an international arrest warrant issued by Armenia.
“His fate is now in the hands of a Prague district court,” Danek said, adding that the court will decide whether to extradite him to Armenia.
The authorities in Yerevan have not yet formally requested the extradition. A spokeswoman for Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General said the request will be filed “in due course.”
Sarkisian’s younger brother Hayk was arrested and charged with attempted murder and illegal arms possession in July. A Yerevan court freed him on bail in September.
Hayk and Narek are the sons of Serzh Sarkisian’s younger brother Aleksandr. The latter has repeatedly caused controversy in the past with his flamboyant behavior and insults addressed to critics of Armenia’s former governments.
Aleksandr Sarkisian, who is thought to have made a big fortune in the past two decades, was briefly detained during the NSS raid on his luxury residence.
A $30 million Armenian bank account of Aleksandr Sarkisian was frozen this summer as part of a separate inquiry conducted by the NSS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian publicly demanded in September that he “return the money to the state budget.”
The ex-president’s brother insisted that Pashinian’s demand and the freezing of his bank account are illegal. He said that the authorities have not come up with any proof that the sum was earned illegally. Still, the 62-year-old made clear that he will be ready to donate “a part of the financial means legally belonging to me” to the state if his and his family members’ assets are unblocked.