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Judge In Fired Army Chief’s Case Turns To Supreme Justice Council


Colonel-General Onik Gasparian (archive photo)

A judge examining the case a fired army chief has turned to the Supreme Justice Council (SJC), an independent body monitoring Armenian courts, reportedly expressing his concern about possible pressure.

SJC Chairman Ruben Vardazarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Friday that judge Mher Petrosian submitted his application on March 25 evening.

Petrosian, an administrative court judge, is examining a claim filed by Colonel-General Onik Gasparian, who was dismissed from the post of Chief of the General Staff of Armenia’s Armed Forces earlier this month.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian asked the president to sign his draft decree on Gasparian’s dismissal after the chief of the Armed Forces’ General Staff and four dozen other generals and high-ranking officers called for his resignation over mishandling last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

President Armen Sarkissian twice refused to sign the draft decree, but did not refer it to the Constitutional Court in due time either, thus paving the way for Gasparian’s dismissal “by virtue of law,” a legal term used when decrees come into effect due to procedures rather than an official’s signature or an official body’s ratification.

Gasparian filed a lawsuit with an administrative court against the prime minister and the president. On March 17, the court ruled that Gasparian shall continue to be in his official capacity until his case is heard and a decision on it is made.

On Thursday, however, it became known that citing incorrect grounds, the administrative court did not accept the lawsuit of Gasparian regarding his dismissal. Gasparian’s lawyer said the decision will be appealed at the Civil Court of Appeal.

Vardazarian said that Petrosian expressed concern about possible pressure that could be put on him, but did not refer to any specific case. The SJC head declined to give details, but said that the SJC did not see “any grounds or real threats to be concerned about.”

Some recent media reports suggested that National Security Service (NSS) officers tried to enter the office of the judge after his decision was published. They quoted the judge as saying that the NSS stopped its actions only after he contacted the SJC.

Later, the SJC said that it forwarded a copy of Judge Petrosian’s letter to the Prosecutor-General’s Office.

On March 18, the office of Armenia’s prime minister insisted that Gasparian was no longer performing his duties as chief of the Armed Forces’ General Staff as he had been dismissed from the post “by virtue of law.”

“The constitution does not provide for the possibility of revising an act that entered into force by virtue of this constitutional norm,” it said.

Four days later, on March 22, Prime Minister Pashinian said that Lieutenant-General Artak Davtian became the new chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces “by virtue of law” despite the fact that the president twice refused to sign his appointment.

President Sarkissian did not refer Pashinian’s draft decree on Davtian’s appointment to the Constitutional Court.

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