Siradeghian Missing After Arrest Warrant Issue

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The National Assembly of Armenia voted Tuesday to ratify a petition by Prosecutor General Boris Nazarian to select arrest as the measure of restriction in relation to ANM Board Chairman–Parliament Member Vano Siradeghian–thereby giving its consent to the April 3 decision of the court of the first instance of Yerevan’s Malatia-Sebastia district being implemented. The parliament approved the move in a secret ballot by 77 votes to 10–with 6 abstentions.

Siradeghian was reported to have left Armenia before Armenia’s National Assembly voted Tuesday to lift his immunity.

Sources said Siradeghian left Armenia on Monday–but his departure was not confirmed by either government or Armenian National Movement officials.

In his petition–the prosecutor general brought charges against Siradeghian on count 72–parts 3–4–6 and 8 of count 17-99–points 3–4–6–7 and 8 of count 17-15-99–points 4–7–8 and 9 of count 17-99–part 3 of count 185–part 1 of count 182 and part 2 of count 17-96 of the Criminal Code of Armenia.

Siradeghian is charged with murder plots implemented through a criminal group set up by him through Armen Ter-Sahakian in the summer of 1992 for the purpose of making attacks and killing officials. According to the petition–a premeditated murder of the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Astarak Regional Council Hovhannes Sukiassian was committed through the mentioned group on September 18–1992. Through the same group–Siradeghian engineered a murder of Railroad Department Chief Hambartsum Ghandilian–his driver Hakob Unikian and passenger Zhora Isahakian on May 3–1993. On June 2–1994–Siradeghian organized and plotted an assassination attempt on the life of Head of the Prosecutor’s Office Investigation Department Vladimir Grigorian and his driver Artur Hakobian. In December 1993–Siradeghian organized and plotted a murder of President of the World Armenian Assembly Serge Jilavian–which was not carried through for reasons not depending on Siradeghian. To hide the facts of plotting the foiled attempt on Jilavian–Siradeghian–through employees of the Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops Department–organized the kidnapping and killing of Artur Hovhannissian and Karen Rafaelian on January 24–1994. In May-July 1994–to conceal the fact that he was the organizer of Ghandilian’s murder and attempt on the life of Grigorian–Siradeghian organized and plotted the attempt on the life of deputy of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Armenia Kim Balayan and Deputy Chief of the State Department of National Security Gurgen Yeghiazarian (current a member of parliament). In May 1994–through Armen Ter-Sahakian–Siradeghian accepted a bribe of $40,000 from Razmik Atoyan. On July 4–1992–Siradeghian–abusing his official position–plotted and implemented through a police task-force an arson and deliberate destruction of a public catering facility situated in the Hrazdan canyon–which caused considerable damage to state and public interests.

In making the mentioned decision–the court of the first instance of Yerevan’s Malatia-Sebastia district considered the fact that there are sufficient grounds to suppose that the defendant may hide from the investigation–hamper the judicial inquest by pressurizing the participants in the criminal proceedings–concealing or falsifying relevant evidence and failing to appear in court. Prosecutor General Boris Nazarian motivated his petition by the fact that the trial has been unreasonably dragged out since September 9–1999 because of Siradeghian impeding the judicial inquest. Besides–the victims in the case and their rightful successors have repeatedly complained about the continued threats and terror exercised by Siradeghian and his closest surroundings. Taking into account the indicated circumstances–Nazarian petitioned for the preventive punishment in relation to Siradeghian be altered–and that arrest be selected as a measure of restriction in his regard.

Armenian Parliament Vice-Speaker Gagik Aslanian dismissed allegations that Siradeghian’s prosecution was politically motivated. Responding to rumors that Siradeghian might have fled from the country–Aslanian said it was not likely.

Galust Sahakian from the Unity block in the parliament had a different opinion. "The entire case of Vano Siradeghian is a politically motivated one. At least he is politician and his activities are to some extent tied to political processes occurring in Armenia. The rest is to be proved by the court. If there are criminal offenses connected with Siradeghian–he has to be called to account," he said to Armenpress. "The political situation in the country–as well as the people’s negative attitude towards continued legal processes–and the parliament members desire to restore the confidence towards the legal system may have accounted for parliament’s permission to lift Siradeghian’s immunity," he said.

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