Sources within the Prosecutor General's Office of the Republic of Armenia have told us that the investigators in the case of US philanthropists George and Carolann Najarian were recently rewarded for achievements by their superiors. But investigators Armen Nadirian and Artashes Basentsian got their rewards for dismissing the criminal case. It has been two years now since the Najarians' property, worth more than three million US dollars according to experts, was fraudulently appropriated, and Grigor Igityan, the person committing the fraud as per the criminal case, has yet to be punished (See also: The Najarians are Stuck between the Courts and Prosecutor General's Office).
In January 25, 2006 the Republic of Armenia Court of Appeals On Criminal and Military Cases handed down one more decision to bring Grigor Igityan to justice. Igityan, while acting as a translator and representative for the Najarians, fraudulently appropriated the two three-story buildings the Najarians built in the Dzoragyough Ethnographic District and a fully equipped photo shop on Abovyan Street in central Yerevan. For more than two years the case has gone back and forth between the courts and the Prosecutor General's Office.
"Since October 2004, when the Najarians submitted this example of fraud by textbook case to the officials at the investigation department of the Republic of Armenia Prosecutor General's Office, the officials, usurping judiciary functions in effect, keep illegally dismissing the case and appealing any decision handed down by courts in termination of their illegal dismissals," said Hrayr Ghoukassian, the Najarians' lawyer.
Five decisions involving thirteen judges handed down by five Armenian courts of different levels, including the Court of Cassation, the highest court, through public and well attended court hearings have unconditionally confirmed that the Najarians' property was fraudulently appropriated, that the Najarians were the victims of a crime committed against them, and that Grigor Igityan must be brought to justice. The desperate efforts by the Prosecutor General's Office to protect Igityan and help him escape justice make this criminally sophisticated mission by the officials even more obvious. In the space of less than a year and a half, the Armenian courts rejected decisions and appeals by the Prosecutor General Office to dismiss the criminal case against Igityan five times. Yet Prosecutor General's Office officials keep staunchly refusing to comply with the decisions of the courts, in breach of all Armenian laws and the country's international treaty obligations.
Back in December 9, 2004, the Court of First Instance of the Kentron and Nork - Marash Districts of Yerevan, after hearing the appeal by Najarians' representatives against the Prosecutor General's Office investigator Armen Nadirian's decision to dismiss the criminal case against Igityan, handed down the first decision to overturn the investigator's dismissal of the case, the decision stating that ". there is enough evidence and support for instigating criminal proceedings against Grigor Igityan for committing large scale fraud against George Najarian, and also for other crimes committed," and ". at the time of instigating criminal proceedings the aggrieved person, George Najarian, was known, yet he was not recognized as such [by the investigators]."
Andranik Mirzoyan, who is head of the Prosecutor General's Office Investigation Department and thus the person responsible for the work of the investigators, instead of looking into its essence, drawing conclusions and taking appropriate steps to comply with the court decision, simply appealed the First Instance Court decision to the higher court, on the same grounds that had been originally raised by his investigators and already rejected by the lower court.
In March 10, 2005, the Republic of Armenia Court of Appeals on Criminal and Military Cases rejected Mr. Mirzoyan's appeal, and the decision stated the following: "By not recognizing George Najarian as an aggrieved party the investigation committed a serious breach of criminal law, as a result of which George Najarian was deprived of and limited regarding his rights provided by the law, and the comprehensive, full and just investigation of the case was hindered, preventing the correct decision from being made in the case. While recommencing the investigation of the case the investigation should involve George Najarian as an aggrieved party and . come to an appropriate conclusion. Based on the principle of due process stated in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Basic Freedoms, and the principles of Armenian Criminal Procedure Code, the Court of Appeals hereby rejects the appeal of the prosecutor, on the grounds that the appeal is baseless."
Again, the Prosecutor General's Office appealed this decision of the second court. Later, on April 22, 2005, the Republic of Armenia Court of Cassation (Highest Court) again denied the Prosecutor General's Office appeal to overturn the decisions of the two courts. In confirmation of the previous court decisions, the Court of Cassation provided that ". the investigation failed to take all measures provided by the Criminal Code, to secure the comprehensive, full and just investigation of the case, thus, . the conclusions made by the courts on implementing a detailed investigation of this case are substantiated and reasoned, and thus, the prosecutor's appeal is denied."
In this way, the decisions of the two courts were confirmed by the decision of the Highest Court, confirming the fact that the crime was committed, the philanthropists suffered, and the Prosecutor General's Office shall bring the criminal to justice and return the property. Shortly thereafter, however, it became even more obvious that the Prosecutor General's Office had no intention of abiding by the courts' decisions.
Instead, the same investigators, whose unlawful decisions had already been overturned by all three levels of Armenia's judiciary, and whose conduct should at least have raised questions on the part of their superiors, called the witnesses who had given incriminating testimonies against Igityan and openly threatened them demanding that they change their testimonies. The witnesses, however, insisted on their previously provided testimonies. Then, the investigators invited the Najarians' representatives for interrogation, which is absolutely prohibited by the law. After all this, on August 30, 2005, the investigators issued a new decision to dismiss the case against Igityan, on the same grounds which had already been rejected by all three levels of Armenian courts.
On October 7, 2005 the Court of First Instance of the Kentron and Nork - Marash Districts of Yerevan, hearing the appeal of the Najarians' representatives, again overturned investigator Armen Nadirian's decision to dismiss the case against Igityan, the court decision providing the following: "Instead of evaluating the evidences of the case, the investigation dismissed the case on the grounds that the case is a civil dispute," whereas , according to the court decision, "no civil dispute may be claimed under the law between business parties when the abuse of trust by a party caused the a breach of the law."
The Prosecutor General's Office appealed this as well, the fourth decision on the case by the Armenian courts, and later, on January 25, 2006, the Republic of Armenia Court of Appeals on Criminal and Military Cases handed down another decision denying the appeal of the Prosecutor General's Office. According the this decision, the Prosecutor General's Office ". failed to comply under the decisions of the Republic of Armenia Court of Appeals on Criminal and Military Cases, and the Republic of Armenia Court of Cassation, and eventually, contradicting itself, decided to dismiss the criminal case #61201004 on the grounds of absence of corpus delicti of fraud in G. Igityan's actions. If indeed the investigation believes there was no corpus delicti of fraud in G. Igityan's actions, then who else caused property damages through criminal act to G. Najarian, and the investigation failed to identify and punish such person while dismissing the criminal case."
It is clear from the text of this decision that the judges have grown tire of the outrageous conduct by the Prosecutor General's Office, apparently caused by impunity. To confirm this, the court decision stated the following: "It is indisputable that US citizen George Najarian is a victim of a crime, that direct property damage was caused to him in the result of a criminal act, such facts having been admitted by all three levels of courts of the Republic of Armenia, and by the investigation as well. All that is left to be done is to identify the person who committed the crime and bring that person to justice."
Refusal to comply with a court decision is a crime and is punishable by law. Why are the investigators protecting a criminal at any cost and so openly, and why haven the courts' decision been implemented? These questions can be answered only by Prosecutor General Aghvan Hovsepyan.