Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) has refused to drop corruption charges brought against a senior government official who actively participated in last year’s “Velvet Revolution.”
The NSS indicted Davit Sanasarian, the head of the State Oversight Service (SOS), in April while investigating alleged corrupt practices within the anti-corruption government agency. It arrested two other senior SOS officials in February, saying that they attempted to cash in on government-funded supplies of medical equipment to three hospitals.
Sanasarian was charged with abusing his powers to help the two men enrich themselves and a private company linked to them. The official, who was suspended as SOS chief as a result, has repeatedly rejected the accusations as “fabricated.” His lawyers asked the NSS to clear him of any wrongdoing after the probe was completed last month.
Sanasarian wrote on his Facebook page late on Thursday that the request has been rejected despite being “substantiated.” He said the case against him is based on “false” incriminating testimony given by Samvel Adian, one of the two other indicted SOS officials.
Sanasarian defended Adian and the other official when they were arrested in February. He said at the time that they are among the SOS’s “best and exemplary employees.”
Sanasarian complained on Thursday that NSS investigators have ignored testimonies given his other subordinates. According to one of his lawyers, Inessa Petrosian, the latter have testified that Sansarian was not aware of Adian’s allegedly illegal interference in the choice of companies supplying expensive equipment for hemodialysis, a treatment of kidney failure.
“Basically, [the investigators] consider only Adian’s testimony to be credible,” Petrosian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Friday. She said Sanasarian’s legal team will therefore ask prosecutors not to endorse the criminal case and thus to prevent it from being sent to court.
The NSS director, Artur Vanetsian, has repeatedly defended his investigators’ handling of the high-profile probe.
Sanasarian, 35, is a former opposition and civic activist who had for years accused Armenia’s former leaders of corruption. He was actively involved in last year’s revolution.
Sanasarian’s supporters, among them leaders of some Western-funded civic groups, have voiced support for him and denounced the NSS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian hit back at the critics in April. He said that they place their personal relationships with Sanasarian above the rule of law.