Saturday, 22 September

Suffer the Little Children: Father Illegally Sneaks Away Two Sons to Greece Under the Nose of Law Enforcement



15_06-marine“Hetq” has previously covered the story of Sanasar and Marineh Ghevondyan, an estranged husband and wife from Odzun whose lives has becoming a running battle of mutual recrimination where there exists a healthy share of revulsion for one another. (See: A Family Tragedy: A Husband Beats His Wife and Convinces a Son to Take His Side)

With the permission of law enforcement officials Sanasar has violated his wife’s rights and has taken custody of two of their four children. On September 11, 2008, at the Lori Regional Court, Judge Souren Baghdasaryan, reviews the petition of Sanasar for custody of the children and partially finds in the favor of the father. Judge Baghdasaryan rules that Sanasar be granted custody of Garik   and Arman, and that Marineh retain custody of the other two boys, Karen and Gor. The court found that the parties to the conflict differed little in terms of their moral and individual characteristics but that in terms of property and housing conditions, Sanasar Ghevondyan had certain advantages given that he owned a private house and had adequate material resources. On May 5, 2009, the same court, after reviewing the claim of Marineh that Sanasar Ghevondyan be obliged to pay alimony in the amount of 30,000 drams for each of the two children remaining in her custody, decided to peg the amount at 5,000 drams. In its decision, the court argued that Marineh Ghevondyan was never able to substantiate her former husband’s material resources and thus determined that the 30,000 demanded was without merit. These court decisions don’t faze Marineh Ghevondyan in the least. What causes her the most pain is that her former husband has banned the two boys in his custody from having any contact with her. On March 3, 2009, Marineh petitioned the court to have visiting rights. However, on March 25, 2009, even before the court reached a decision regarding her visitation petition, Marineh informed the court that she had learnt that her husband had gone to the Tumanyan branch of the RoA Department of Passports and Visas and had received passports for the boys in her custody and that he was preparing to take them to Greece. “Starting in January, 2008, I alerted law enforcement in Alaverdi that my husband wanted to send my two kids to Greece. I informed the police chief and the head of the passport department. I informed the court on March 25 and the same day it handed down a court order prohibiting the transfer of the children outside of Armenia. However, my husband drove here from Greece and arrived at Odzun on March 27. He found out about the court injunction and stayed in Odzun the following day. On March 29, he and the kids had already passed through the Bagratashen Customs House on the Georgian border. Marineh decided to personally deliver the court injunction to Garik Antashyan, head of the Tumanyan branch of the Compulsory Enforcement Service of Court Decrees (CES). “I went up to him and saw that he was talking to my husband’s lawyer, Rubik Niazyan. Seeing that their conversation was dragging on, I approached him to hand over the injunction. When I asked that he take a look at the document he told me to wait. It seemed that the lawyer had already told him about the injunction. The day after I got the injunction Mr. Niazyan had petitioned the appeals court, arguing that the injunction was baseless. Today, the lawyer denies that he ever informed Sanasar Ghevondyan about the injunction. However, the lawyer could never have filed an appeal without Sanasar’s knowledge. The appeal was rejected. The CES was obliged to immediately see that the injunction was enforced but Garik Antashyan brushed me aside and told me to wait. I waited there for over two hours with my boy in tow. I figured that the two of them were having a serious conversation and that it would be better if I didn’t make a scene. Later, I went up to the second floor to make a copy of the injunction, thinking that by the time I went back down their conversation would be over. When I returned, however, Mr. Antashyan had disappeared. I asked his assistant and she told me he had gone to Vanadzor. When I requested that she accept the injunction, the assistant refused, explaining that her boss had given her specific instructions not to accept any type of document in his absence. Thus, I had to wait until March 29 to deliver the injunction to Mr. Antashyan. The CES began to enforce it on March 30. But by that time my boys had already be taken across the border,” Marineh recounts. Marineh is convinced that CES head Garik Antashyan and attorney Ruben Niazyan conspired in assisting her former husband to snatch the kids and ferry them to Greece. “Garik Antashyan deliberately avoided accepting the court injunction from me so that Sanasar would have the time to take my boys away. I fail to see how a person can drive for 3-4 days straight from Greece to Armenia and then start back the very next day. I suspect that something else was at play here. At home I noticed that there were many Xerox copies of my passport. I can’t really how Sanasar used them nut I have a sneaking suspicion that he forged some agreement with my name to get the boys to Greece. It doesn’t really matter since the name of Sanasar’s brother’s daughter is also Marineh Ghevondyan. We also look alike. If I remember correctly, there’s no father’s name noted in the passport. I suspect that Sanasar used it to forge a permission slip with my name,” Marineh recounted. Marineh has had no contact with her boys since they were taken to Greece. “I’m sure that Sanasar won’t allow it. One day, I was able to phone them but the next day the number had been changed. Arman, my middle boy, would always cry. His father would throw into the car and forcibly take him away. However, Sanasar wasn’t content to end his streak of cruelty just yet. Learning that her husband had snatched the two boys away to Greece, Marineh moved back to the apartment in Odzun where she lived after marrying Sanasar and where her four boys were born. She set up house and began to live there with her two boys left in her care. With his prior permission, Sanasar’s brother had handed over the keys to her. However, after getting the boys to Greece, Sanasar immediately directed Ruben Niazyan, his lawyer, to get an eviction notice from the court for his wife and mother-in-law to vacate the apartment. What is amazing, but in reality tragic, is that it never crossed Sanasar’s mind that his two other sons were living with Marineh when he applied for the eviction notice. The inclusion of his mother-in-law, Anahit Shakhkoulyan, in the eviction demand was also unwarranted since the woman never lived with her daughter in Odzun. Mrs. Shakhkoulyan has other, more pressing concerns to worry about. The soup kitchen in Alaverdi always sees to it that two meals a day get delivered to the family in Odzun; to stave off the hunger faced by her daughter and grandsons. “Our meager income goes to pay off the lawyers in the hope that they can get some results. Right now, we’re in pretty bad shape. They’ve even turned off the gas in the apartment,” said Mrs. Shakhkoulyan, breaking down in tears. “Where would I take my sons to live if I were served with an eviction notice? We may truly despise one another, but Sanasar should think about the boys. What have they done wrong? They were born in this house and have a right to live in a proper home,” said a teary-eyed Marineh.


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