Monday, 24 September

Another Puzzling Twist in the Najarian Court Case

On September 13, 2008, Grigor Igityan, the former translator and representative for the Najarians, was sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment by the Kentron andNork-Marash Courton the charge of swindling Carolann and George Najarian out of their personal property. The court decided to let Mr. Igityan free on his own recognizance until the sentence went into effect.

After the trial, a Diaspora-Armenian acquaintance of mine wrote me saying, ‘You see, justice has won out, and you write that the courts in Armeniaaren’t independent and that they do not hand down just sentences’. I replied to my diasporan friend by way of a popular saying – don’t get undressed before reaching the river. I wrote that it was still early for congratulations and that our justice system was full of nooks and crannies.
Grigor Igityan’s lawyer disputed the sentence at the Court of Appeals. However it is the third time and the courts can’t review a case that has been dragging on for five years. I should remind readers that on November 7, 2008, the trial session was postponed due to the absence in court of public prosecutor Hovsep Sargsyan and that on November 17th the same prosecutor requested an adjournment in order to familiarize himself with the facts of the case. I’ll only note that Hovsep Sargsyan had indeed previously studied the case file and that it was he, once having established a guilty charge, who took the case to court. 

On December 3, 2008, the ROA Criminal Court of Appeals once again postponed a review of the case. This time around neither the public prosecutor nor Igityan’s defense attorney, Kromvel Grigoryan, showed up in court.

According to our sources the last three postponements in the Court of Appeals were due to specific motivating reasons. According to information supplied by an official at the Chief Prosecutor’s Office, due to the testimony given during the past few weeks by a top official within the court system, a scheme to once and for quash this case was discussed. Accordingly, Prosecutor Sargsyan would have to withdraw the guilty charge thus leading to a shortened court case. 

Our prosecutor insider who participated in the above discussions explains that the reason he has come clean with information regarding “the dirty laundry of the Prosecutor’s Office is that ‘he simply couldn’t silently accept such a travesty which representatives of the system sworn to safeguard law and order had planned and were attempting to carry out’.

Research of the corresponding ROA legal statutes, discussions with various lawyers and their evaluations of the case lead to one conclusion – it would be legal nonsense for the prosecutor to withdraw his guilty charge in the Court of Appeals. Such a move is expressly forbidden in the statutes of the Court of Appeals. The prosecutor can withdraw a guilty charge base on an examination of the evidence collected, but only before the court passes sentence. In the Najarian case,  Prosecutor Gevorg Yeremyan, who participated in the Court of First Instance trial, not only didn’t withdraw the guilty charge but he also claimed that the evidence and arguments brought before the court fully substantiated it and petitioned the court to sentence Grigor Igityan to five years imprisonment.

In addition, not only didn’t Prosecutor Yeremyan dispute the sentence but neither didn’t any other prosecutor. This only goes to prove that they all agreed with the sentence. It is perhaps possible to speculate as to what has forced prosecution officials to take this step. In all probability the reason is the millions of dollars worth of real estate belonging to the Najarians that Grigor Igityan fraudulently swindled from them. 
Another factor bolstering the probability of such a chain of events is the fact that Igityan remains free even though there is sufficient basis for him to be detained in custody before sentence takes effect. It has been noted many times in past “Hetq” articles that Igityan has constantly sought and made use of the protection of people with influence. This aspect, when viewed under the light of the above-mentioned facts, leads to more concrete conclusions.

One thing is clear – if the December 3rd trial session of the Court of Appeals wasn’t held then something prevented the realization of the previously concocted scenario of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office. At the court session to be held on December 17th at the ROA Criminal Court of Appeals, it will become apparent whether this scenario is still on the table or whether another one is in the offing.

This headline grabbing case has disconcerted many who have been following it, both inArmenia and in the Diaspora. It is of note to add that the much maligned Najarians continue to carryout benevolent projects inArmenia and Artsakh.


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