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Armenian Prosecutor Vows To Watch Sukiasian Case

Saribek Sukiasian (file photo)
YEREVAN -- Armenian's chief prosecutor says his office will oversee the controversial criminal proceedings launched by police against the brother of prominent businessman Khachatur Sukiasian, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian said chief prosecutors for Yerevan and its southern Erebuni district have been tasked with ensuring that police respect due process in the investigation of Saribek Sukiasian.

The Sukiasian family and the Armenian opposition have criticized the charge against Saribek of "illegally depriving a person of their liberty motivated by material gain," and say it is politically motivated.

Sukiasian and an associate were arrested on February 12 in a police raid at the headquarters of the SIL Concern, a large business group that belongs to the Sukiasian family. Saribek Sukiasian has taken over operations of SIL Concern in the absence of his brother, Khachatur, whose whereabouts are unknown.

Khachatur left Armenia after he was charged with helping to organize "mass disturbances" during the postelection protests in March 2008.

Both Saribek Sukiasian and his associate were released three days after being detained pending an investigation. The police said initially the two men were suspected of threatening to kill a fellow entrepreneur, Gor Davtian.

Police officials said several days later, however, that there was no death threat, but that Davtian was forcibly kept by Saribek Sukiasian at SIL headquarters for several hours.

The conflicting police accounts raised more questions about the credibility of the case, which Saribek Sukiasian says is part of a continuing government vendetta against his family because of its support for the opposition.

Sukiasian's lawyers dismissed the charge against their client and have alleged there were numerous procedural violations made by the police.

Davtian's whereabouts have been unknown since the launch of the police investigation. Police spokesman Sayat Shirinian denied on February 24 newspaper reports that Davtian has fled Armenia.