Siradeghian Lawyers to Ask for More Time to Examine Charges

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Lawyers for former interior minister Vano Siradeghian said on Tuesday they will ask prosecutors to give them more time to look into murder charges leveled against their client last January.

One of them–Tigran Janoyan–said they have examined only a "certain part" of the criminal case against Siradeghian and have yet to gain access to some important details. Janoyan spoke to RFE/RL on the day of the deadline given by prosecutors to the lawyers for preparing Siradeghian’s defense in his expected trial.

The ex-minister–who was one of former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s closest associates–was stripped by the Armenian parliament of his immunity from prosecution last spring after he was charged with ordering murders of two police officers five years ago. Siradeghian has rebutted the accusations as politically motivated. Janoyan said he and his client visited the prosecutor general’s office on Tuesday to "clarify some circumstances." A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office refused to comment on the lawyers’ request.

Under Armenian law–a criminal case goes to court after its examination by the defense. Siradeghian is likely to face fresh charges in another case involving nine men who went on trial last month. They are accused of being part of an interior ministry "gang" which the prosecutors say was set up by Siradeghian in 1992 to commit murders and robberies.

Government officials have said Siradeghian’s election to the new Armenian parliament in May will not save him from a trial.

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