YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The parliament of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has refused to allow the prosecution and arrest of one of its members close to General Samvel Babayan–commander of the Karabakh army. The lawmakers on Wednesday voted down a prosecutors’ petition to strip Murad Petrosian of his parliamentary immunity on charges of assaulting a senior police officer two years ago. Petrosian was briefly held in custody at the time–but was not put on trial because of the parliament’s opposition.
Petrosian–who is known for his hard line on the settlement of the conflict with Azerbaijan–has regularly criticized the Armenian and Karabakh governmen’s’ position in peace talks. The parliament sacked him last spring as chairman of one of its committees. The move followed Petrosian’s series of verbal attacks against Armenian President Robert Kocharian. Petrosian then deplored lack of support from the powerful Babayan. It is not clear whether the attempt to prosecute him is related to the recent government crisis in Stepanakert that put Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukassian at odds with Babayan.
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic chief prosecutor–Mavrik Ghukasian–told RFE/RL that the deputies "had no legal grounds" to reject the petition and acted out of "moral" considerations only. He said he will again seek Petrosian’s prosecution.