11 Feb 2020 14:08

Armenian Prosecutor General's Office disagrees with power usurpation charge against ex-Speaker Babloyan, additional investigation pending

YEREVAN. Feb 11 (Interfax) - The Armenian Prosecutor General's Office has changed the charges brought against former Parliament Speaker Ara Babloyan and the parliament's former chief of staff Arsen Babayan.

The Special Investigation Service accused Babloyan of "power usurpation" and "forgery in office," while Babayan was indicted with "aiding and abetting power usurpation and forgery in office."

Now, the case will be returned for an additional investigation, considering that the crimes were wrongly defined. The charges will be changed, and a new bill of indictment will be presented, the agency said in a statement on Monday.

According to the statement, the former officials should be charged with "abuse of office and forgery in office."

Materials in the proceeding said that Babloyan and Babayan had sought to ensure election of Grair Tovmasyan, a member of their party, as chairman of the Armenian Constitutional Court and his tenure until the age of 65. Thus, they forged documents, accepted the resignation of Constitutional Court Chairman Gagik Arutyunyuan, and organized a new election, which led to Tovmasyan's victory.

Former Health Minister Babloyan was elected Armenian Parliament speaker in May 2017. After the change of regime in Armenia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan organized early parliamentary elections in December 2018 but Babloyan took no part in the campaign. The formerly ruling Republican Party, whose member he was, lost the election.

Babloyan, a pediatrician and the owner of the Arabkir children's health center, was a member of parliament from 2007.

The Armenian prime minister's press secretary, Vladimir Karapetyan, earlier told the Armenian service of Radio Liberty that the country's previous administration "made former Constitutional Court Chairman Gagik Arutyunyan resign for Tovmasyan to be elected to that post."

Arutyunyan told the country's media he had resigned voluntarily. "I was elected chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council and, naturally, I decided to step down as Constitutional Court chairman. It was my personal decision," he said.

Neither Babloyan nor Babayan pleaded guilty.