An Armenian judge was arrested on Wednesday in what media reports described as a corruption investigation launched by the National Security Service (NSS).
The NSS on Thursday confirmed the arrest of Gagik Heboyan but refused to give any details. Another law-enforcement agency, the Special Investigative Service (SIS), said afterwards that the NSS has transferred the criminal case to it for further investigation.
A spokeswoman for the SIS, Marina Ohanjanian, declined to reveal what Heboyan is accused or suspected of. She said the SIS will publicize details of the case later on.
Heboyan has worked in the court of first instance of Armenia’s central Kotayk province since 1999. According to some Armenian media outlets, the 54-year-old judge will be charged with bribery.
Corruption in the Armenian judiciary has long been believed to be widespread. In 2013, the then human rights ombudsman, Karen Andreasian, released an extensive report that accused judges of routinely taking bribes in return for corresponding rulings.
The report, based on confidential interviews with lawyers, judges and prosecutors, singled out the Court of Cassation, the highest body of criminal and administrative justice in the country. Both the court and a state body overseeing the judiciary denied the allegations.
At least four Armenian judges are known to have been arrested and prosecuted on corruption charges in 2016 and 2017.