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Ex-president Serzh Sargsyan acquitted in embezzlement case

3 June 2024
Armenia's third president Serzh Sargsyan. Image via Sargsyan's office.

Armenia’s third president, Serzh Sargsyan, has been acquitted of embezzling more than ֏489 million ($1.3 million) from the state in 2013.

Sargsyan, who was forced to step down following the 2018 revolution, was charged in late 2019 and put on trial in early 2020.

He denied the charges while his party, the Republican Party, decried them as politically motivated.

Even if found guilty, Sargsyan would not have faced imprisonment because of an expiring statute of limitations. 

‘It’s not like I am very happy with this ruling, or if there was a different decision, I would have experienced a tragedy. Also considering the fact that the statute of limitations had expired long ago, for me it is first of all of moral value’, Sargsyan told reporters after the court session. 

Sargsyan said that he expected prosecutors to appeal the ruling, urging supporters not to assume that Armenia’s judiciary was independent.

‘Sentences made by one, two, three, or four judges are not enough to decide whether justice is at its height or not in our country’, he said.

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Sargsyan was accused of embezzling state money through an agricultural assistance programme intended to provide farmers with cheaper petrol. He allegedly meddled in a government tender for a fuel supplier and ensured that Flash — one of Armenia’s main petrol companies with ties to Sargsyan — was chosen over cheaper alternatives.

According to Sargsyan, it was ‘obvious’ that the computing companies would not be able to deliver the scheme on time. 

Sargsyan was also charged with the improper use of a state aircraft, but those charges were dropped last September.

Following the 2018 Velvet Revolution, charges were brought against numerous high-ranking officials; among those charged is former president Robert Kocharyan, who was on trial on charges of ‘overthrowing constitutional order’ in a 2008 crackdown that left 10 people dead — charges dropped in 2021. 

Read in Georgian on On.ge.
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