Witnesses in Ashot Bleyan Case Testify in Court

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The lower court of Yerevan’s Malatia-Sebastia district continued February 4 hearing the criminal case initiated against the former acting minister of education–former director of the "Mkhitar Sebastatsi" educational complex–Ashot Bleyan.

Testifying at the court in connection with the "Text-book–95" episode was Vahe Topalian–who was deputy minister of education and chairman of the jury of the contest for paper-purchase in 1995. Responding to the questions concerning the transfer of $120,000–he said that only the minister and he had the right to sign the transfer documen’s at "Ardshinbank," and since he was hospitalized–Bleyan signed them. According to Topalian–the funds (which were extrabudgetary) for the printing of text-books for the 1995-96 school year were drawn from the account of the supply department operating within the structure of the Ministry of Education.

Responding to the question as to why the "Susanna" company and the Ararat state-run enterprise were recognized as winners of the contest while a company engaged in paper production and supply charged a lower price ($1.12) for a kilo of offset-1 paper–Topalian said that besides the price–the terms of delivery were also of significance. Responding to the question of Bleyan’s lawyer Robert Grigorian concerning any instruction issued by the minister for a certain organization being preferred–Topalian answered that had such an instruction been issued–he would never have carried it out.

The statement made by the member of the contest jury–Edik Poghossian was also made public at the court hearing. According to the statement–Poghossian was a jury member–but never participated in the contest–and his signature was forged. Regarding this issue Topalian said–"I knew Poghossian liked complaining. But I remember his participation in the contest."

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