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Possible New Government Pick For High Court Judge Revealed


Edgar Shatirian, a former member of the Corruption Prevention Commission (file photo)

A former member of an anti-corruption body has revealed his “preliminary consent” to be named a government candidate for a Constitutional Court judge soon.

Edgar Shatirian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun) on Friday that discussions around his possible nomination were still at an early stage.

He said he did not meet with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. He also refused to name the government official that he had held negotiations with. At the same time, Shatirian said that he did not rule out that similar negotiations had been held with other individuals.

Shatirian, 40, is a candidate of juridical sciences and associate professor. He became known to the public when he was appointed member of the Corruption Prevention Commission last November upon the nomination of the ruling My Step parliamentary faction. However, when later he failed to be elected chairman of the commission, he left the body, considering his further work in it inexpedient.

Shatirian said today that he only had a “preliminary conversation.” “It’s all at the earliest stage yet. There will most likely be a meeting with representatives of the ruling faction, after which both they and the Government will clarify their position,” he said.

The government had already once made a nomination for the post of a Constitutional Court judge in July. But senior law professor at Yerevan State University (YSU) Vahram Avetisian announced his withdrawal earlier this week after meeting with My Step lawmakers.

Armenian Minister of Justice Rustam Badasian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on August 20 that discussions regarding a new candidate were underway. He said no decision had been made yet.

After the latest amendments to the Constitution, nominations for three vacant positions of Constitutional Court judges must be made within two months starting from June 26.

The names of two other candidates are already known. President Armen Sarkissian has nominated Artur Vagharshian, a chair of jurisprudence at YSU, whose nomination for a vacant seat in the Constitutional Court once already was rejected by parliament in 2019. The General Assembly of Judges, meanwhile, has nominated the incumbent Chairman of the Court of Cassation, Yervand Khundkarian.

To become Constitutional Court judges the three candidates will need to be approved by at least three fifths of the 132-seat National Assembly where My Step has 88 mandates.

Constitutional changes passed by the National Assembly in June call for the gradual resignation of seven of the Constitutional Court’s nine justices installed before April 2018. Three of them were to resign with immediate effect. Also, the changes stipulate that Hrayr Tovmasian quit as court chairman but remain a judge.

Tovmasian and the ousted judges have refused to step down, saying that their removal is illegal and politically motivated. They have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights to have them reinstated.

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