Siradegian’s Detention Was Legal Leaders Say

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The Public Relations Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office released a statement Tuesday wherein it said:

"On May 3–1999–at the Zvartnots airport in Yerevan–deputy of the National Assembly Vano Siradeghian–upon his return from abroad–was detained in accord with counts 128-133 of the Code of Criminal Procedures and in strict observance of the requiremen’s set by the indicated counts.

"Still on February 17–1999–the supreme representative body of Armenia–the National Assembly–allowed criminal prosecution of Vano Siradeghian–on the basis of which on February 19–the preliminary investigation agency took a decision to charge Vano Siradeghian on counts 72–17-15-99–185–182 and 17-96 of the Criminal Code of Armenia–namely: the formation of gangs–murder plot with aggravating circumstances–abuse of power and other crimes.

"In view of the absence of Siradeghian from the republic–a search for him was announced–and therefore the preliminary investigation agencies could not bring charges against him.

"After being detained–Siradeghian was indicted on counts 202-204 of the Code of Criminal Procedures of the Republic of Armenia–the indictment procedure stipulated by count 203 of the Code of Criminal Procedures being strictly observed.

"The agencies in charge of preliminary investigation also observed the basic principles of election campaigning stipulated by Article 18 of the Election Code of Armenia–in particular–under provision 9 of the aforementioned article–the three proxies for parliamentary candidate Siradeghian are allowed to see him every day for two hours.

"The recent mass media allegations by different figures that the actions of the preliminary investigation agencies were illegal are groundless and do not proceed from the legislation of the Republic of Armenia."

At a news conference on May 5–President Robert Kocharian echoed the same sentimen’s. "There was nothing illegal in the detention of Vano Siradeghian," Kocharian told reporters.

"It is bad that we forget why we detain him: tens of hundreds people–innocent people were kept in custody not for 2-3 days–but for years. We must remind of these years from time to time," he added.

The Communist Party describes Siradeghian’s return as a step aimed at destabilizing the situation on the eve of the parliamentary elections.

Leader of the Communist Party of Armenia Sergey Badalian told a news conference on May 5 that this step is aimed at discrediting the elections at the moment when there is an opportunity to hold free and fair elections. According to him–"it was clear that Siradeghian’s return would be followed by his arrest." According to Badalian–the given situation bears "signs of a political show" and may worsen an already unstable situation in the upper levels of the leadership–taking advantage of the existing contradictions.

Badalian said that the nomination of Vano Siradeghian for parliament was inadmissible–but since this has already happened–his fate "should be determined by the law."

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