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Armenian General’s Pre-Trial Arrest Extended


Armenia - Retired General Manvel Grigorian speaks at a congress of the Yerkrapah Union in Yerevan, 18 February 2017.

A court in Yerevan on Wednesday allowed investigators to keep Manvel Grigorian, a retired army general prosecuted on corruption charges, under arrest for two more months.

In a ruling condemned by Grigorian’s lawyers, the court again refused to release him from custody on bail.

Grigorian was arrested when security forces raided his properties in and around the town of Echmiadzin in June. They found many weapons, ammunition, medication and field rations for soldiers provided by the Armenian Defense Ministry. They also discovered canned food and several vehicles donated by Armenians at one of Grigorian’s mansions.

The once powerful general denies the accusations of illegal arms possession and embezzlement leveled against him. His lawyers have repeatedly demanded his release, saying that he is suffering from cancer and a number of other serious illnesses.

One of the lawyers, Arsen Mkrtchian, insisted that his client cannot receive adequate medical treatment in prison. He accused the judge in the case, Marine Melkonian, of turning the court into a “branch of the Special Investigative Service,” a law-enforcement body that requested Grigorian’s continued incarceration.

“I don’t know of any other accused person who is kept under arrest for so long despite suffering serious diseases and being ready to compensate [the state] for the damage,” Mkrtchian told reporters after the court’s decision.

The lawyer also said that he is trying to convince Grigorian to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. The general has been reluctant to do so, he said.

In October, Grigorian offered to donate his vast land holdings near Echmiadzin to the state. His lawyers presented the offer as a gesture of goodwill.

Grigorian, 62, served as Armenia’s deputy defense minister from 2000-2008. Until his arrest he was also the chairman of the Yerkrapah Union of Karabakh war veterans, an organization which was particularly influential in the 1990s and the early 2000s. He was reelected to the Armenian parliament in April 2017 on the ticket of then President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party.

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