A court in Yerevan on Thursday granted bail to a prominent Armenian businessman who was arrested nearly three months ago on corruption charges which he flatly denies.
The millionaire businessman, Samvel Mayrapetian, was charged in early October with “assisting in bribery.”
The Special Investigative Service (SIS), a law-enforcement body prosecuting him, has still not publicized any details of the accusations. It thus remains unclear whom the SIS accuses or suspects of accepting a bribe with the tycoon’s help.
Mayrapetian’s lawyer, Karen Batikian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service the court released his client from custody on health grounds. Batikian said the tycoon is seriously ill and is now undergoing in a Yerevan hospital a medical examination ordered by investigators.
“He will remain in the hospital for now,” added the lawyer.
Mayrapetian is one of Armenia’s leading real estate developers who also owns a national TV channel and a car dealership. His company was involved in a controversial redevelopment of old districts in downtown Yerevan during the 1998-2008 rule of former President Robert Kocharian. Pro-opposition media outlets for years linked Kocharian’s elder son Sedrak to the Toyota dealership.
Kocharian is currently held in pretrial detention, having been charged in connection with the deadly breakup of post-election opposition protests staged in Yerevan in March 2008. He denies the accusations as politically motivated.
In September, Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) launched a separate corruption inquiry into the embattled ex-president. The NSS chief, Artur Vanetsian, revealed earlier this month that Sedrak Kocharian has been questioned as a “witness” as part of that probe. Vanetsian did not elaborate.