Artsakh’s Former Defense Minister Sentenced to Six Years in Prison

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YEREVAN (A.W.)—Samvel Babayan, Artsakh’s former defense minister, was sentenced to six years in prison Tuesday after having been found guilty of both acquisition of illegal arms and money laundering.

Samvel Babayan (Photo: RFE/RL)

The initial criminal charge against Babayan carried a sentence of up to 13 years’ imprisonment.

Babayan was arrested on March 21 after Armenian’s National Security Service (NSS) claimed to have confiscated a Russian-made surface-to-air rocket system. The NSS alleged that Babayan paid two men to smuggle the shoulder-fired Igla systems from Georgia.

The former defense minister has continued to deny all of the allegations made against him.

According to reports, the Yerevan court sentenced two other men in connection with the charges to three and two years’ imprisonment. Four other people who were tried in connection were given suspended jail terms of two to two-and-a-half years.

Shortly after Babayan was detained in March, members of the opposition (now defunct) Ohanyan-Raffi-Oskanian (ORO) bloc—a political alliance that participated in the April 2 Armenian Parliamentary elections—condemned the arrest and called the charges baseless and politicaly motivated. Babayan had been critical of Armenia’s leadership and was thought to have been close to ORO.

Babayan served as the commander of the Stepanakert Second Volunteer Company and was a member of the underground headquarters in Stepanakert from 1989 to 1991. He was a commander from 1991-1994 during the Artsakh Liberation War. In 1993, he became Artsakh’s Defense Minister, serving until 1999. In 2000, he was arrested and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for allegedly organizing an assassination attempt against then Artsakh President Arkady Ghukasian.

Babayan was set free four years later and relocated to Yerevan, where he founded the Dashink political party, which failed to gain popular support, however.

Between 2011 and 2016, the former defense minister lived in Russia. When he returned to Armenia, he remained a strong critic of both Armenia’s and Artsakh’s leadership.





The post Artsakh’s Former Defense Minister Sentenced to Six Years in Prison appeared first on The Armenian Weekly.

Source: Armenian Weekly
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