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Armenian Official Resigns Amid Corruption Charges


Alvaro Antonian

Alvaro Antonian

YEREVAN -- The head of Armenia's earthquake-monitoring agency has resigned ahead of his trial on embezzlement charges, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The Special Investigative Service (SIS) claimed in December that Alvaro Antonian, head of the National Service For Seismic Defense, took 3.3 million drams ($9,100) of a French government grant that was used for building several seismic monitoring stations in the southeastern Vayots Dzor Province.

The SIS said a 70,000 euro ($92,500) grant was provided to Armenia's earthquake-monitoring agency in August 2009 through a nongovernmental organization headed by Antonian.

If found guilty, Antonian could be sentenced to between four and eight years in jail. He has avoided pretrial detention.

Antonian strongly denied the accusation at the time, saying that "personal motives" were behind the launch of criminal proceedings against him. He also told RFE/RL then that he had no plans to resign from his post.

Emergency Situations Minister Armen Yeritsian said Antonian has been relieved of his duties "in accordance with his own request." Yeritsian, whose ministry controls the seismic defense agency, did not comment on the criminal case against Antonian.

The SIS has sent the case to a court in Vayots Dzor. The court has yet to set a date for the start of the trial.
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