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Armenian Police Drop Case Against Pro-Opposition Businessman

Saribek Sukiasian

Saribek Sukiasian

YEREVAN -- Police in Yerevan have closed a controversial criminal case against a brother of Khachatur Sukiasian, a prominent Armenian opposition businessman and politician, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Police spokesman Armen Malkhasian on June 22 confirmed the closure of the case to RFE/RL.

Saribek Sukiasian and one of his top managers were arrested on February 12 in a police raid on the headquarters of the SIL Concern group, which belongs to his family. They were both released pending an investigation three days later.

The police said initially that the two were suspected of threatening to kill a fellow businessman, Gor Davtian. Police officials said later, however, that Davtian did not receive death threats from Sukiasian and was only forcibly kept in the SIL headquarters for several hours.

Accordingly, Sukiasian was charged with "illegally depriving a person of liberty motivated by material gain," a crime punishable by 3-5 years in prison. Both Saribek Sukiasian and the other former suspect, Artashes Stepanian, denied the accusations.

A lawyer for Sukiasian and Stepanian, Lusine Sahakian, told RFE/RL on June 21 that police investigators had terminated the criminal proceedings after they could find no incriminating evidence against her clients. She said the decision by police was made last week.

Sahakian and other defense lawyers claimed that the case was brought to prevent the Sukiasian brothers from purchasing the Byuregh mineral water company, 80 percent of which was owned by Davtian and another businessman until recently.