Ashot Bleyan Case Hearings to Be Held in Phases

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The court hearing of the case initiated against the former acting minister of education–former director of the "Mkhitar Sebastatsi" educational complex Ashot Bleyan at the lower court of Yerevan’s Malatia-Sebastia district started with a two-hour delay January 31 becuase the defendant objected to being in the latticed dock. At the beginning of the proceedings Bleyan made a statement–pointing out that the hunger strike called by him on January 25 was stopped the following day "so as not to arouse pity or upset [his] supporters."

The Prosecution has requested the court to question the victims–witnesses and the Prosecution. But–pointing out that the questioning of 201 witnesses will take much time Bleyan suggested that the trial start with the study of the key documen’s followed by hearing the testimony of the victims and witnesses. He also suggested that the investigation of the case be conducted in episodes.

Judge Iskuhi Vardanian stated that simultaneous study of certain episodes will complicate the work–so the proofs will be studied episode by episode–testimony of the witnesses in the case will be heard and the documen’s bearing an indirect relation to the proofs will be made public. Only later will the court start hearing the defendant’s testimony.

Director of the "Lusmat" state-owned CJSC–Ministry of Education–Felix Torgomian testified that in 1995–several organizations entered a contest to supply paper for text-book publishing. The state-owned enterprise in Ararat–Armenia–and the "Susanna" company in Volgograd–Russia–won the contest. A sum equivalent to $120,000 was transferred to the account of the "Susanna" company. According to the witness–all the transfers were made in accordance with the procedure established by Ashot Bleyan the then acting minister of education and by orders of the deputy minister. But–since the deputy minister was in the hospital at that time–the transfers were made by orders of the acting minister. Torgomian said that he had not met with the minister at that time or received any verbal instructions to transfer the money to the account of the "Susanna" company. but–according to the Prosecution–this testimony is contradictory to that of the same witness given during the preliminary investigation–when he said that he had had a meeting with the minister.

We would remind you that Ashot Bleyan is charged with thefollowing: huge embezzlemen’s and abetting huge embezzlemen’s (count 90.4–count 17-90/4 of the Criminal Code of Armenia); fraud (count 89/2,4); bribe-taking (count 185/2)–official forgery (count 187)–misuse of power and office (count 182/2). Other than Bleyan–other defendants in the case are 60-year-old cashier of the "Mkhitar Sebastasi" educational complex–Aida Avakova and 63-year-old accountant–Rima Poghissian. The case involves 20 victims and 201 witnesses.

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