Armenian Justice Body Asks President to Fire Defiant Judge

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s Council of Justice has asked President Robert Kocharian to terminate the powers of a district court judge in a move seen by many as retaliation for his controversial acquittal of two businessmen three months ago.
The president-appointed body on Friday established that Judge Pargev Ohanian committed "serious violations of Armenian law" while adjudicating on a number of criminal and civil cases thus backing the claims of the government-controlled Judicial Department most of which related to the judge’s allegedly wrong verdicts. However, the judicial bodies found no violations in the July 16 acquittal of Gagik Hakobian, the main owner of the Royal Armenia coffee packaging company, and one of its top executives, Aram Ghazarian, who had been arrested and charged with fraud in October 2005 after publicly accusing senior customs officials of corruption. Ohanian’s verdict then effectively proved a precedent as state prosecutors and law-enforcement agencies lost a major court case in Armenia.
Ohanian implied all along that he believed he faced disciplinary action for his handling of the controversial Royal Armenia case.
Commenting on the latest decision of the Council of Justice, Ohanian said it was no surprise for him.
"I don’t have the feeling that justice has been done. Instead, I feel relieved in some inexplicable way. I feel it is a classical example of persecution for justice which should bring relieve according to biblical ideas," he told reporters.
Ohanian’s powers as judge will be terminated if the president backs the Council of Justice’s petition within the next two weeks. Kocharian is known to have granted all petitions on discharging judges since 2000.


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