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Armenia's Third President Serzh Sargsyan Acquitted of Embezzlement Charges


Armenia's Third President Serzh Sargsyan Acquitted of Embezzlement Charges

The Yerevan criminal court has acquitted Armenia's third President, Serzh Sargsyan. The verdict, announced on Friday, also absolved Barsegh Beglaryan and Gevorg Harutyunyan, lifting their restraining orders and dismissing the civil lawsuit against them.


The Charges and the Verdict


The case involved allegations of embezzlement. According to the indictment, Sargsyan, along with Beglaryan, the owner of Flash fuel company, and assisted by former Deputy Minister of Agriculture Samvel Galstyan and former Minister of Agriculture Gevorg Harutyunyan, had allegedly misused government funds. Specifically, they were accused of squandering 489,160,310 drams ($1.3 million) allocated for 15,391,765 liters of diesel fuel intended for state assistance programs between January 25 and February 7, 2013.


Sargsyan faced charges under the Armenian Criminal Code for large-scale embezzlement. However, he consistently denied the charges, with his defense team arguing that the accusations were politically motivated.


Historical Context


This acquittal follows a similar case in 2021 when former President Robert Kocharyan was also cleared of charges under the criminal code. These high-profile acquittals have sparked discussions about the nature of political persecution in Armenia and, of course, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s failed promises to bring justice


Sargsyan's Response


Outside the courthouse, Serzh Sargsyan addressed reporters. He urged continued struggle, referencing the movement led by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan. Sargsyan expressed his commitment to fighting for justice and not giving up, regardless of the challenges faced.


He also commented on external influences on Armenia's political landscape, specifically mentioning the collective West and the obligations Armenia has as a member of the Council of Europe. Sargsyan dismissed the positions of Turkey and Azerbaijan on these matters, emphasizing their irrelevance despite their Council of Europe memberships.


Support for Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan


Sargsyan also voiced his support for Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, leader of the Tavush for the Homeland movement, and his candidacy for the Prime Minister’s office. Despite constitutional challenges due to Galstanyan's dual citizenship, Sargsyan highlighted a constitutional provision that allows for amendments with a two-thirds majority vote, offering a potential solution.

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