Parliament Strips Immunity of Wanted Deputies

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s parliament on Tuesday gave a green light for the arrest and prosecution on coup charges of four of its members arrested on Sunday in connection with the weekend unrest in Yerevan.
Miasnik Malkhasian, Hakob Hakobian, Sasun Mikaelian and Khachatur Sukiasian will be formally charged under articles of the Criminal Code relating to attempts to seize power and provoke riots for that purpose. The charges stem from Saturday’s clashes between Ter-Petrosian supporters and security forces that followed the forcible break-up of an opposition sit-in in Yerevan’s Liberty Square.
Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to lift their colleagues’ immunity from prosecution after a speech by Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian. He reiterated government allegations that the clashes had been planned by the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition in advance.
Hakobian and Malkhasian were detained on Sunday and brought to the parliament session by masked security officers. Both men were allowed to address the National Assembly and deny the accusations. The two other accused deputies appear to have gone into hiding.
Hovsepian told journalists later in the day that law-enforcement authorities are also in search of several other unspecified Ter-Petrosian allies and trying to make sure that none of them flees the country. He did not exclude that the former president may also be arrested and put on trial. "The investigation is underway and we will make a decision based on its results," he said.

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