YEREVAN, June 22. /ARKA/. A first instance court in Yerevan has ruled today against pre-trial detention of Gagik Tsarukyan, the leader of the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party. Leaving the courthouse, Tsarukyan declined comments, reiterating that his prosecution is politically motivated.
His lawyer Yerem Sargsyan told reporters that, despite the judge’s decision, they may appeal the ruling. “It depends on the content of the ruling, because the court was to rule either to satisfy the motion of prosecutors or dismiss it, as well as consider the validity of charges brought against Tsarukyan,” he explained.
Sargsyan expressed satisfaction that the court “found the courage to disobey the political trend of this case and make an independent decision.”
The lawyer also said that this decision does not mean the termination of the criminal case and the investigation will continue.
Armenia’s National Assembly voted on June 16 to strip Tsarukyan of his parliamentary immunity allowing prosecutors to prosecute him on charges of vote fraud and illegal commercial activity.
Lawmakers from the Prosperous Armenia and another opposition Bright Armenia party skipped the voting. The motion brought to parliament by prosecutor general Artur Davtyan was backed by 87 MPs, all from the ruling My Step bloc.
Earlier Gagik Tsarukyan, one of the wealthiest businessman in Armenian, accused the authorities of fabricating the case against him in retaliation to his calls on the government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to step down because of its economic, political and other failures.
Tsarukyan is accused of creating and leading an organized group that bought more than 17,000 votes for his Prosperous Armenia Party during parliamentary elections held in April 2017.
Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) said in three subsequent statements on June 15 that its Investigative Department collected sufficient evidence showing that Tsarukyan was engaged in illegal commercial activity conducted through two of his gambling firms having caused damages to the government in the amount of $61 million.
Tsarukyan is also accused of seizing illegally a land area for his Arinj Mall that caused damages to the tune of over $800,000.- 0-