An Armenian court issued has an arrest warrant for the former head of a Yerevan hospital related to former President Serzh Sarkisian after a law-enforcement body brought more corruption charges against him.
The suspect, Ara Minasian, is a renowned doctor whose once influential son Mikael is married to one of Sarkisian’s daughters. He was sacked as executive director of the state-owned Surb Grigor Lusavorich Medical Center in July 2018 after the Armenian Health Ministry accused the hospital management of embezzling around 545 million drams ($1.1 million) worth of government funds allocated for free examinations and treatment of civil servants.
Minasian not only rejected the accusations but also filed a defamation suit against Health Minister Arsen Torosian. Earlier this year a district court in Yerevan ordered Torosian to apologize to the plaintiff. The minister challenged the ruling in the Court of Appeals.
Minasian appeared to have gone into hiding before being formally charged with embezzlement and forgery of documents in November. A court in Yerevan refused to allow investigators to arrest him at the time.
Armenia’s Investigative Committee said on Friday that another court allowed Minasian’s arrest this time around after it widened the criminal case against him. It said he now stands accused of embezzling 908 million drams in addition to “wasting” 72 million drams in hospital funds.
“Given that A. Minasian is hiding from the investigation and his whereabouts are not known, a hunt has been declared for the latter,” read a statement released by the Investigative Committee.
Minasian’s lawyer, Ara Ghazarian, declined to comment on the development. He claimed that he has not seen the committee statement yet.
The suspect’s son, Mikael Minasian, enjoyed considerable political and economic influence in Armenia until nationwide mass protests brought down Sarkisian in April 2008. He was sacked as the country ambassador to the Vatican in November.
The current Armenian authorities have promised a tough fight against corruption. Individuals targeted by their ongoing criminal investigations also include Sarkisian’s two brothers, two nephews and former chief bodyguard.