Vachagan Ghazaryan

Sargsyan Bodyguard Out on Bail

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — A court in Yerevan on December 31 granted bail to former President Serzh Sargsyan’s former chief bodyguard less than two months after he was again arrested on corruption charges.

Vachagan Ghazaryan, who headed former Sargsyan’s security detail for more than two decades, stands accused of illegal enrichment and false asset disclosure. The charges stem from his failure to declare to a state anti-corruption body more than $2.5 million in cash that was mostly held in his and his wife’s bank accounts.

Ghazaryan was obliged to do that in his capacity as deputy head of a security agency providing bodyguards to Armenia’s leaders. He held that position until the end of May.

Ghazaryan was first detained in June after police raided his apartment in Yerevan and found $1.1 million and 230,000 euros ($267,000) in cash there. The National Security Service (NSS) said he carried a further $120,000 and 436 million drams ($900,000) in a bag when he was caught outside a commercial bank in Yerevan.

Armenia’s Court of Appeals ordered his release from custody in July after he offered to post a 1 billion-dram ($2.1 million) bail. The higher Court of Cassation overturned that ruling on November 15 following an appeal lodged by prosecutors.

Ghazaryan’s lawyer, Armen Harutiunyan, said the Yerevan court agreed on Saturday to free his client on a much smaller bail worth 50 million drams.

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The decision came just one day after the Court of Appeals rejected Ghazaryan’s appeal against his pretrial detention.

Earlier in December, the NSS had said that Ghazaryan, who has the rank of NSS general, has offered to pay the state as much as $6 million in compensation. His lawyer confirmed the information.

Topics: Corruption
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