Hakobian Fighting for Freedom

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Hakob Hakobian, a controversial parliamentarian who has spent threes days in custody for allegedly provoking a mass brawl, was busy on Thursday trying to persuade his colleagues not to lift his legal immunity from prosecution. The National Assembly is to meet for an emergency session on Friday decide whether to allow prosecutors to press criminal charges against Hakobian over his role in a weekend violence at a gas distribution facility near Yerevan. Hakobian, who was released from jail the previous night, spent about five hours meeting representatives of various parliament factions to explain "what happened in reality." Speaking to RFE/RL afterwards, he seemed confident of the parliament’s refusal to allow his prosecution. "Am I guilty?" he asked sarcastically before adding, "I participated [in the brawl] and did everything." He refused to elaborate. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian and other leaders of governing Republican Party of Armenia, which Hakobian joined recently, were meeting late Thursday to discuss the embarrassing affair and formulate a common stance. Samvel Nikoyan, a senior Republican, said before the meeting that the party, beset by opposition allegations that it is harboring "criminal elemen’s" within its ran’s, will likely agree to the lawmaker’s prosecution. "The Republican Party’s position is as follows: we must enable law-enforcement bodies to conduct an investigation," said Nikoyan. "If they want to charge him, then I think the Republican Party will respect that request."

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