Monday, 24 September

Radical Breakthrough in the Najarian Case

In August 2003, US citizen George Najarian appealed to the president, prosecutor general, and foreign minister of Armenia informing them that Armenian citizen Grigor Igityan had deceitfully taken possession of plots of land with buildings and a photo shop he owned in Yerevan.

On the basis of these appeals, a criminal case was launched by the Yerevan Prosecutor's Office. The case was then transferred to the Office of the Prosecutor General and subsequently closed. Lawyers representing George and Carolann Najarian appealed the decision by the investigator to close the case.

In 2005 the Office of the Prosecutor General reopened the case, only to close it once more. Thus, courts decided to reinvestigate the case two times, and both times the prosecutor's office closed the case, demonstrating that it is not obliged to abide by court decisions.

For three years the Najarians' case has been circulating among various courts and the Office of the Prosecutor General of Armenia. Certain US senators and congressmen have followed the case and sent letters to Armenian authorities.

Finally, last September the Prosecutor's Office brought charges of swindling against Grigor Igityan in accordance with Article 178 of the Criminal Code of Armenia.

“We are concerned that though Igityan is charged with a serious crime he has not been arrested, which would prevent him from escaping from justice or from openly trying to hinder the investigation, especially in a situation in which the investigators are aware of numerous such attempts made by Igityan before,” said Hrair Ghukasyan, a lawyer for the Najarians. Ghukasyan does not rule out that Igityan might escape from the country.

Our source in the Prosecutor's Office informed us that Grigor Igityan's passport has been confiscated and he is unable to leave Armenia.

Now the case has been assigned to another investigator in the Office of the Prosecutor General and the former investigator, A. Nadiryan, has found himself in rather difficult situation. After all, he may have had his reasons for closing the case so many times and acting in court as though he was Igityan's lawyer. The new investigator in the case, Hovsep Sargsyan, has not done much new investigative work, since everything had already been ascertained.

This case has also introduced some unique examples of the working methods of the Prosecutor's Office: joint actions by the accused and employees of the prosecutor's office, pro-forma discussions during staff meetings at the office of the prosecutor general, and several contradictory decisions by the Prosecutor's Office.

Hetq Online has repeatedly addressed this issue, presenting evidence that suggests that government officials supported Igityan in his illegal dealings. During this period of time Grigor Igityan sold one of the buildings erected at the Najarians' expense and now he will have to compensate the buyer/government official for his losses.

According to our information, President Robert Kocharyan is personally following the proceedings in this case.

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