What follows is a story that would make a great screenplay for a thriller movie.
Those who wrote the script include judges, police investigators and department heads, and court prosecutors in Armenia. Luckily, they don’t have to get paid for writing the script.
Throw in officials from the Italian Embassy in Armenia and we have ourselves a movie for international viewing.
It all started on March 6, 2012 at the Arabkir and Kanaker-Zeytun District Court in Yerevan.
The presiding judge for the court session was Armen Khachatryan and Khachatur Baghdasaryan was the prosecuting attorney.
Also present was the Italian Consular General, a translator, two witnesses to the search and two indicted Italians.
A package that had been found on one on the indicted Italians was opened in full view of the court. It should have contained 1.460 million AMD, $2,400 and 30,180 Euros.
Judge Khachatryan only found 80,000 AMD inside. He was evidently taken aback and immediately telephoned Artzrun Arakelyan, Chief Investigator at the Arabkir Police Department.
Arakelyan then calls three investigators involved in the case to his office.
Let us now break from the narrative and return to a series of prior developments in the case.
The two indicted men, Vincenzo Gaytano Torino and Antonio Delle Kave, are citizens of Italy. They both hail from Naples. They were charged with defrauding two RA citizens out of the above mentioned amounts of cash on October 14, 2011. The two had posed as Armani representatives and, gaining the confidence of the victims, took the cash on the pretext of facilitating their travel arrangements to Italy.
The Italians pleaded guilty to the charges and requested a “speedy” trail. The court agreed.
The court sentenced each of the two Italians to a fine of 1million AMD and ordered them to return the ill-gotten money.
Now let’s fast forward to March 6. Judge Khachatryan wanted to accomplish exactly this at the court case. But lo and behold, only 80,000 AMD was left from the nearly $10,000 seized from the Italians.
How was the loss of the money hushed up?
Artzrun Arakelyan, who heads the Arabkir Department of Investigations, is the protégé of RA Deputy Police Chief Gagik Hambardzumyan, who also heads the Department of Investigations. This is how the loss was covered up. Gagik Hambardzumyan’s son Sargis is Artzrun Arakelyan’s deputy.
Charges against the two Italians were brought by Sergei Varantsovyan, an investigator at the Arabkir Department. The case was then handed over to another investigator, Mikayel Mikayelyan. (The latter is the son of Artur Mkrtchyan, a judge sitting on the bench at the Arabkir and Kanaker-Zeytun District Court.)
The case was transferred to yet another investigator, Paruyr Badalyan. He completed the investigation and sent the case to court. Khachatur Baghdasaryan was the prosecuting attorney.
These were the three investigators that Arakelyan sent to the court after getting the frantic phone call from Judge Khachatryan. They returned from court and confirmed that most of the seized money had gone missing.
Arakelyan then calls the district prosecutor Grisha Mikayelyan. A short time later, Mikayelyan and prosecuting attorney Khachatur Baghdasaryan, pay a visit to Arakelyan. The three of them walk up to the office of Artur Mehrabyan, Chief of the Arabkir Police. They are joined by Albert Margaryan, Deputy Director of the Arabkir Police Division’s Operational Unit.
After Mehrabyan hears their story, he calls two staffers from the operations unit – Rafo (son of Artsakh Military Police Chief Aghasi Bagratunyan) and Vahram (son of former Police Motor Vehicles Division Deputy Director Albert Margaryan)
The two confirm that they had counted the money in the presence of the investigator and handed it over to him. Mehrabyan then declares that his department’s hands are clean and that he will bring the matter to his superior Yerevan police Chief Nersik Nazaryan. We can only assume that Mehrabyan did inform Nazaryan, given the seriousness of the mater.
Hetq wasn’t able to find out whether Nazaryan, in turn, reported the incident to RA Police Chief Vladimir Gasparyan. Our police source told us that Gagik Hambardzumyan has requested that nothing be reported to Gasparyan about the matter.
The prosecutor claims that the seized packets were only in his possession for two hours before being handed over to the court. He said that it was merely a case of carelessness for which the maximum penalty would be an administrative reprimand.
Artzrun Arakelyan requested that none of this news be leaked out and the very same day he went to the judge with the same request. The judge agreed.
Arakelyan then returned to his office and called the three investigators in, saying that he’d be going to Gagik Hambardzumyan and instructing him that the money be returned or else. Everyone connected to the case would be in deep trouble.
Hours later, Sergey Varantsovyan returned with a few thousand dollars. Mikayel Mikayelyan refused to pay anything, claiming he never took any of the money to begin with.
The other investigator, Paruyr Badalyan, said his father was bringing $3,000 to Yerevan but couldn’t make it the same day. Badalyan said that Artzrun would pay on his behalf and that he would pay him back.
We still have no information about the rest of the “disappeared” cash.
The next morning the investigators father brought the $3,000 and gave it to his son who, in turn, gave it to the court.
The collected money was then returned to the Italians the next day.
(to be continued)