26 January 2005

Deputy Hakob Hakobian could face trial in UAE

AZAD-HYE (25 January 2005): Armenian Deputy Hakob Hakobian and his son, who
were detained by Dubai Police Directorate since 16th January 2005, were set
free yesterday on the condition that they both should surrender their
passports and remain in the UAE until the completion of the preliminary
investigations, following charges of stealing two pieces of expensive
garments (worth 8 thousand dollars) from a known boutique in "Wafi Mall" in
Dubai. They were arrested in the hotel where they were staying, only hours
after their shopping excursion to the said Mall. The Management of the Mall
insists that they paid only 16 thousand dollars for a merchandize worth 24
thousand. It should be mentioned that most products in the "Wafi Mall" are
not equipped with alarm tags, instead surveillance is carried out with
fixing cameras.

A third individual called Hrand Davdian, who was arrested for the same
reasons and who was shopping with them, is still under the Police custody.
Up to this moment, the Egyptian lawyer who is handling the case could not
manage to ensure his release on bail. All three are expecting the decision
of the Public Prosecutor, who could press charges against them based on the
outcome of the preliminary investigations. If the file goes to the Court,
Deputy Hakobian, his son and their friend may be obliged to follow the
hearings for a period of 3-5 months, at the end of which, if the incident of
the theft is confirmed, they could face imprisonment verdicts for 3-5 years.
Since Deputy Hakobian was on personal visit to the UAE, he does not enjoy
any parliamentarian immunity and his trial will take the normal course.

His wife, who was accompanying him in this shopping trip was allowed to
leave the UAE just one day after the episode. She returned back to Yerevan
and informed the Press that the whole story about here husband is a
misunderstanding and that Dubai Police actually were looking for another
Hakobian, who was enlisted on the list of the wanted people by "Interpol".
She also mentioned that the confusion about the credit card payment has
occurred with their friend Hrand Davdian and not her husband.

After his conditional release yesterday Deputy Hakobian assured by telephone
to "Aravot" daily in Yerevan that he is a victim of misunderstanding and
that he will explain everything to the public once he is back to Armenia.

During the past few days his colleagues in the Parliament did not comment on
the news about his arrest. Some of them underlined the fact that the
available news are not from reliable sources. No official statement came out
from the President of the National Assembly Arthur Baghdassarian. On the
other side, the Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hamlet
Gasparyan assured that the Ministry is in constant contact with the
Ambassador of Armenia in Abu Dhabi Arshak Poladian and Consul Nana
Ghazarian. Both officials who reside in Abu Dhabi have visited Deputy
Hakobian at the Police Headquarters on Thursday 20th January 2005 and
inquired from the Public Persecutor about the judicial procedures related to
his case. In a telephone conversation with "Azg" daily on 24th January 2005,
Ambassador Poladian referred that at last the misunderstanding about Deputy
Hakobyan being on the list of Interpol has been resolved but the accusation
for stealing are still standing and might lead to a lengthy judicial

"Azg" comments on 25th January 2005: "Nevertheless, the details of this
incident, which have been circulated in the Press are causing embarrassment
to the Government. Despite that an individual should be considered innocent
until he/she is proved guilty, it is still humiliating what occurred to
Deputy Hakobian".

Deputy Hakobian is a known businessman in Armenia and has started some
business activities in the UAE, which now could be jeopardized by the
outcome of his eventual trial. In Armenia he is mostly known by his
street-nickname "Choit". He is born in 1963, member of the National Assembly
(Parliament), representing the city of Etchmiadzin since 1999 (reelected
2003), member of the Committee on State and Legal Affairs in the Parliament.
During the last Presidential elections of February 2003 he and his
supporters were accused by opposition leaders in creating artificial
confusions in different electoral districts of Echmiadzin and dropping mass
ballot papers into the voting boxes.

Photo at www.azad-hye.com: Member of Armenian National Assembly (Parliament)
Hakob Hakobian.

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