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Prosecutors Again Block Trial Of Former Armenian Police Chief


Armenia -- Armenian police chief Vladimir Gasparian at a meeting in Yerevan, February 17, 2017

Prosecutors have again refused to give the green light to the trial of Vladimir Gasparian, a former chief of the Armenian police facing corruption charges, saying that a criminal investigation conducted by another law-enforcement agency was flawed.

The Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC) charged Gasparian with six counts of illegal enrichment, embezzlement, fraud and other crimes in December. In particular, it claimed that he acquired over 2 billion drams ($4.2 million) worth of assets “by criminal means” when holding high-level positions in Armenia’s security apparatus from 2000-2018.

Gasparian denies the accusations. But he has avoided publicly commenting on them.

The ACC completed the investigation and sent its findings to prosecutors for approval in January.

The Office of the Prosecutor-General sent the case back to the investigators, however. The ACC condemned the decision as “illegal and unfounded.” It subsequently requested another endorsement from the prosecutors.

It emerged earlier this week that a prosecutor overseeing the probe refused for a second time to pave the way for Gasparian’s trial. The Office of the Prosecutor-General insisted that the investigators have still not submitted sufficient evidence in support of the accusations brought against Gasparian.

The development highlighted tensions between the two law-enforcement agencies that have been increasingly visible in the last few months. In January, the prosecutors refused to put their seal of approval on corruption charges leveled by the ACC against Aram Harutiunian, a fugitive former environment minister.

Gasparian, 63, headed the Armenian police from 2011-2018, during former President Serzh Sarkisian’s rule. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian sacked him immediately after coming to power in May 2018.

Gasparian had served as military police chief from 1997-2010 and as deputy defense minister from 2010-2011.

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