2019 June 19
Anti-Corruption & News - Jun/19/2019: Kocharyan trial; prosecutors, bribery; Bako's credibility.... Journalist arrested; blackmail.... Money from US.... Parliament passes several bills; gambling ads.... Minimum wage debate.... Bridge.... other manr-munr news inside
Disclaimer: All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law, even if they may sound as being guilty. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
Day-4 of the May 18th Kocharyan verdict challenge trial.
The families of March 1st victims and the general prosecutor Davtyan have arrived. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164218
March 1st victim families about the events: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164258 -- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164263 --- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164265 -- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164299 -- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164293
Kocharyan's lawyer has asked the judge to recuse himself again. This time his complaint is that the judge didn't let the colleague lawyer speak yesterday, thus "violating rights and showing bias". During yesterday's session, the judge asked the lawyer to sit and wait for his turn to speak, while the lawyer was making a statement which the judge didn't find appropriate for the specific topic that was being discussed at that time. The judge told the lawyer he would be given the opportunity to speak, but the lawyer kept talking over the judge, creating a heating confrontation. At one point, a Kocharyan lawyer swung a finger at the judge, which made the judge feel threatened/angered.
The prosecutors argued against this new petition for recusal, calling it an attempt by the defense to delay time. Prosecutor asked the judge to consider warning the defense for "abusing their rights" to hinder the court's work.
In the end, the judge refused to recuse himself.
The general prosecutor accused the defense of applying moral and psychological pressure on the court during their press conferences, and during a previous court trial in which Kocharyan threatened that anyone involved in this lawsuit will answer for their actions "very harshly".
At last, the court is discussing the actual case. The prosecutors have asked the judge to overthrow the May 18th verdict that freed Kocharyan, because they believe it was done with errors.
This is the prosecutor's reasoning for the error: Earlier, the court was given evidence about reasonable suspicions that Kocharyan violated the Code 300.1 . The court did not find these suspicions to be invalid, yet the court decided to check the Constitutionality of the Code 300.1 itself by "illegally" sending it to the Constitutional Court, without first discussing or hearing arguments about the Constitutionality of it (a while ago the Constitutional Court made a ruling that Cassations Courts have the right to interpret whether something is Constitutional or not).
Moreover, "դատարանն այլեւս չէր կարող կասկածներ հարուցել այդ հոդվածի սահմանադրականության հետ կապված, քանի որ այդ կերպ դատարանը հիմնավոր կասկածի գնահատման տիրույթում կիրառել է 300.1 հոդվածը".
Prosecutor also complained that in May 18th, the court completely ignored the complexity of the case, that it happened a decade ago, that the investigators faced obstacles, that steps were taken by the suspects to cover up crimes, that 10 people were killed during events connected to this event, that the suspects still have the ability to interfere with the case.
The prosecutor asked the judge to fully overthrow the earlier verdict and send Kocharyan behind the bars.
While speaking about Kocharyan's bribery allegations, the general prosecutor noted that in May 18th, they gave new evidences to the court but it completely ignored them and didn't take those into account. For example, says the prosecutor, Kocharyan's 26 year old son's bank account suspiciously received $18 million (8.6bln) in the span of 2 years, which even the defendant did not explain during the investigation.
Yet the court refused to know how that money was earned by someone who worked as a public official all his life, especially in a role that prohibits doing business due to conflict of interest.
The fact that the case is complex and several high ranking people in his political apparatus are now defendants in the case, the prosecutor says it's a risk that they can still collude or interfere with the case, if not jailed.
Prosecutor also urged the judge not to feel threatened by Kocharyan's earlier threats that everyone involved in this case will answer "harshly".
During Kocharyan's bribery topic discussion, prosecutors presented some details about one of the financial crime episodes he is charged with. Several witnesses - including the main bribe giver Silva Hambardzumyan - were questioned. Kocharyan's former Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan and others were also questioned. Bank documents from 2 companies were seized, other materials from police and investigators were presented.
Prosecutor says mining businesswoman Silva Hambardzumyan used Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan to secretly contact president Kocharyan to receive "sponsorship" to do mining, which she received. She then allegedly used pro-Kocharyan media magnate Samvel Mayrapetyan (also charged) to transfer 1.4bln bribe to Kocharyan in 2008-May.
March 1st victim lawyer Seda Safaryan attacked the May 18th decision by the judge to accept two Artsakh president's personal guarantees that freed Kocharyan. Says the people who gave these personal guarantees themselves are involved with the March 1st events, and could be even classified as suspects.
She said there is evidence that soldiers and special forces were sent from Artsakh to Yerevan during the events. All this makes it reasonable to believe that the two Artsakh presidents themselves do not want this case to be solved, said lawyer. Code 145 says personal guarantees can be given only by "trustworthy people", and that it's unclear why the court found these two individuals trustworthy, while they had direct connections with the events.
She also complained that the court didn't properly ask the two presidents how exactly they plan to guarantee that Kocharyan will "behave".
She also complained that Kocharyan still has great amount of powers and can interfere with the case if not jailed.
She also said that since Kocharyan earlier said that every country at some point uses troops for internal political reasons, says a lot about his mentality, and it creates fear among people and can interfere with the case. She brought one possible example, saying the judge was scared to give a warning to Kocharyan after he allegedly insulted a prosecutor during the trial.
She said the prosecutors and the defense were given an opportunity to deliberate on certain topics, but the March 1st victim lawyers (who are separate from prosecutors but they are also suing Kocharyan) weren't given this ability.
The session continues tomorrow.
Roboserj outlet Haykakan Zham's journalist has been arrested after allegedly blackmailing a policeman for 800k in order not to publish harmful information about him. They negotiated it down to 400k. The police was made aware. The bribe was paid, followed by an arrest at the spot. The invisibly marked money was found under her possession at the time of the arrest.
(What a weird coincidence, isn't it? Another Roboserj outlet Analitik's chief was sentenced for similar blackmail a while ago.)
After Pashinyan's year-long badgering that US hasn't acknowledged Armenia's democratic advancements enough, and after a good amount of lobbying by ANCA, the US Congress has amended the 2020 foreign aid bill to increase aid to Armenia by $40 million.
Artsakh will receive $1.5mln aid to help clean up enexploded landmines.
Thank you Nancy Congress and ANCA, really cool 👍
The new Justice Minister is Rustam Badayan, age 28, now-former high ranking IRS employee. He said judicial vetting will be implemented, but more changes might be necessary to solve the problem. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/979081.html --- https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164246
The Parliament has adopted a BHK bill to declare April 16th the day or Armenian Cinema. 76 AYE - 13 NAY - 23 IDGF https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164227
Full list of bills adopted today: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164232
"Դատարկ-դատարկ խոսում ես, դու քո ցեղով գնա օրենքին ենթարկվի". BHK chief Gagik Tsarukyan got upset after Azatutyun journalist asked a question whether Tsarukyan is concerned that the Investigators could detain and take him in for a questioning, after he refused to voluntarily appear to testify about the pre-Abovyan election arson attack against a QP staffer. Says he is following the law and responded to the investigator's latter appropriately. Denied having any connections to the incident, says doesn't know anything.
QP MP asked the Defense Minister to explain the incident in which a military unit commander told the soldiers that anyone who refuses to carry a cross doesn't deserve to be there. MP complained that it violated non-Christian Yezidi soldiers' rights. The Defense Minister said they don't have such requirements for non-Christian soldiers, and that the incident was a result of illiterate actions by the commander. (The incident happened after the churchman went and distributed crosses; it made the commander "too excited".)
PM Pashinyan will not appoint an opposition figure at the head of the State Oversight Committee, which he created after becoming the PM, which can examine any institution that receives some of its funding from the taxpayer money. He says the SOC is part of the institutions observed by the Prime Minister's office, and that it would be the same logic as appointing opposition figures as his advisers and aides. Pashinyan said the Parliament has great amounts of underutilized powers to provide checks and balances. This was in response to BHK asking Pashinyan to allow opposition to become heads of some institutions.
QP has been working on plans to raise the minimum wage. The party in Parliament wants to raise it from 55k ($115) to 63k ($132), while the government wants to see it go up to 70k ($146). They are currently arguing over it. https://hraparak.am/post/1279386329
(Ilham is a Pashinyan shill CONFIRMED http://azeridaily.com/analytics/48766)
Parliament unanimously adopted a QP bill that limits gambling ads on TV and radio. TV ads will be allowed only between 10 PM - 7 AM. There are restrictions on the duration and the size of the ads.
Socialist activists from ARF are outside of the Parliament building again, demanding the preservation of the progressive income taxation brackets by calling it necessary for social-financial justice. QP plans to change the existing tax law after presenting arguments of it being harmful for the exports and other areas.
QP MP says the protests aren't ideological, but rather a political move. Says he tried to speak with the activists earlier but their leaders told them not to have any discussions with them. The MP also doesn't agree with the activists that someone earning 200k is "rich" and should pay 1/3rd as a tax. Says the wealth and the property will still be taxed.
Update: Healthcare Ministry is working with the government to implement the single-payer universal healthcare by 2021, which will gradually expand to various groups. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164285
Update: Few weeks, ago some outlet covered a story about the director of History Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia being denied entry to Georgia while entering from Turkey. Theories were speculated that it could be because of his past work, something he said in past that Georgian authorities didn't like.
Georgian authorities now say he was blocked due to a technical error in the system. He can enter the country.
Update: Last year we learned that the government was discussing with Georgians to build a new bridge between the countries, called "Friendship Bridge". Seven construction firms participated in the auction to win the right to build. Iranian Tunnel Sadd Ariana won the auction. In 2 months they'll have the blueprints ready. The bridge should be ready by the end of 2020.
There will be two 3-lane parallel bridges, each being 200 meters long. It'll cost $7.3mln. Bill will be split 50/50 between the countries. It'll be near Bagratashen-Sadakhlo, on Debet river.
To improve female and young people's participation in politics, QP MP is working on a mobile school that will move around the country and help - mostly young women - to learn and enter politics. https://factor.am/161353.html
Smartavia (Nordavia) will become the second airlines company to provide direct flights between Yerevan and St. Petersburg this summer. Experts say this will lower ticket prices and add the needed competition.
Today was the welcoming ceremony of "Dine Sky" restaurant by Dubai ACE company, with whom president Sarkissian met in Dubai last year. A crane lifts a dining table with 22 chairs to 50 meter height, so you can chew your strip steak while looking down at the lesser humans from above. There is even a space in the middle for cooks and waiters. To make this possible, ACE imported 150 ton crane that has a license to lift 10 tons of cargo.
Yerevan will be the first city to have the winter version of Dine Sky, which lifts 16 people. Tourists will probably like it.
More details inside https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/164303
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/c2m3il/anticorruption_news_jun192019_kocharyan_trial/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|