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Pro-Government Lawmakers Urge Release Of Former Defense Minister


Armenia - Former Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan.

Two members of Armenia’s parliament representing the ruling Civil Contract party have called for former Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan’s release from custody pending the outcome of his trial.

In a petition submitted on Thursday to the judge presiding over the trial, Kristine Poghosian and Vilen Gabrielian said they guarantee that Tonoyan’s will not obstruct justice if set free. The petition as also signed by Aram Sarkisian, the leader of the pro-government Hanrapetutyun party not represented in the National Assembly.

Tonoyan, the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, Lieutenant-General Artak Davtian, two other generals and an arms dealer went on trial on Wednesday, accused of supplying the armed forces with faulty ammunition. They all deny the accusations.

Unlike the other defendants, Davtian has not been arrested or fired. He has not publicly commented on the case so far.

The presiding judge, Manvel Shahverdian, accepted prosecutors’ demand that the trial be held behind the closed door because of “state secrets” involved. Defense lawyers strongly objected to the decision. They also demanded that Shahverdian free all detained suspects.

The judge began considering the demands, including the petition or Tonoyan, on Friday. It was not immediately clear when he will announce his decision.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian appointed Tonoyan as defense minister just days after coming to power in May 2018. The latter was sacked in November 2020 less than two weeks after a Russian-brokered agreement stopped the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In a statement released early this month, Tonoyan warned that he must not be made a scapegoat for Armenia’s defeat in the six-week war. He pledged to make “surprise” revelations in that regard.

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