YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A leader of the pro-government Yerkrapah Union said on Thursday that the lack of unity in the largest faction of parliament over the prosecution of the former interior minister Vano Siradeghian did not amount to a major split.
"The issue is a purely legal and not political one–and the Yerkrapah faction would never make a political decision on it," Albert Bazeyan–the deputy speaker of parliament–told a news conference. The absence of a common position within Yerkrapah is believed to have been the main reason why Siradeghian avoided arrest on charges of murder on Tuesday. Members in the faction loyal to Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan have said it was up to rank-and-file Yerkrapah deputies to decide on whether to strip Siradeghian of his immunity.
Bazeyan–who voted for criminal proceedings against the ex-minister–refused to say what the defense minister’s position was. He also noted that Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian "had a certain confusion and restraint which caused bewilderment among some deputies." He said the criminal charges should have been better substantiated.
"I am not sure how interested the prosecutor-general was in the arrest and prosecution of Siradeghian," Bazeyan said. He suggested that Siradeghian would have lost the immunity had Hovsepian demanded only his prosecution–without pre-trial arrest.
Hovsepian told a private Armenian TV channel on Wednesday that he will again approach the National Assembly with the same demand. Bazeyan predicted "moral and psychological changes" among deputies–which he said will eventually give a green light to Siradeghian’s trial.