Armenian religious leader in Turkey makes bribery complaint

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The religious leader of Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate has filed a complaint about a person who identified himself as a Prime Ministry inspector and who then requested 6,000 Turkish Liras for his service.

Aram Ateşyan, the acting head of the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey, filed a complaint against Kemal Tayfun Nargin, who identified himself as an inspector of the Prime Ministry’s General Directorate of National Estate.

Nargin is charged with fraud, abusing public institutions and is facing up to seven years in prison. The 36-year-old did not attend the hearing.

Ateşyan, who attended Nargin’s hearing, claimed the suspect arrived at the patriarch claiming he needed a “gift” to finalize the return of the historic Sansaryan Han building located in Istanbul’s Eminönü district. The building was set to be given to the Armenian community as part of the returning of minorities’ properties.

Nargin called the patriarch to arrange a meeting; he had Ateşyan fill out a form that had the Prime Ministry logo on it and then asked for “a gift” from the religious leader. Ateşyan said he gave him 3,000 liras, but Nargin found the amount inadequate, so Ateşyan proceeded with providing a further 3,000 liras.

After finding out that the form was fraudulent, Ateşyan contacted EU Minister Egemen Bağış about the situation.

Ateşyan’s lawyer Ali Elbeyoğlu, however, said the issue was dubious, since the returning of the Sansaryan Han was a subject only Ateşyan, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Bağış knew about.

“We did not even know about [the returning of Sansaryan Han] then. One man goes to the patriarch about an issue that only three people know about, and says ‘The Han will be returned.’ This is not an issue about 3,000 or 6,000 liras. This is not a simple issue, it is a mystery,” Elbeyoğlu said.

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