On 19 February, the Criminal Appeals Court continued the hearing on the case of the former head of the Social Security Service Vazgen Khachikyan and others; presiding judge Gagik Avetisyan.
Vazgen Khachikyan mentioned at the court that the First Instance Court had allowed many omissions and erroneous conclusions while ruling the verdict. When speaking about the public danger of my action the court mentioned that a lot of elderly were deprived of their pensions, but when we asked to bring at least one such pensioner they did not do it. The prosecution was trying to do something like Hovhannes Tumanyan’s work “Gikor”, that is they were trying to extort tears, but that’s not the case in court,’ said the defendant.
Khachikyan said that when ruling the judgment the mitigating circumstances were not taken into account. He accused the court of first instance, in biased approach against him. “In my opinion, the Court was unduly strict, it even smells as vengeance. Witnesses’ words were changes and used as grounds. The witness had said “I am not sure whether my daughter-in-law has received my pension or not,” they have concentrated on the last ‘not’.”
He also announced that he was treated by the court as a special subject. The judge replied to that statement saying, “We filed fraud-related charge against the Vazgen Khachikyan as a citizen and not as a special subject.”
During the session Khachkyan constantly cited the books or movies, he even joked, telling the story of a divorcing couples and the reason for devours was money. The defendant compared that situation with the prosecution. Still he said, “What would accept the decision of the appellate court whatever it is, I am ready to pay the penalty. As for the behavior of the prosecution I would have to say that it shows a really “humanitarian” approach, and without taking into account any mitigating circumstances, that there are people with disabilities or freedom fighters considers isolation as the only means of correction.”
The defendant also expressed surprise over the issue of public importance referring to the problem, “Most importantly, the Court shall base solely on the facts and not the emotional background, which forms the public opinion,” he mentioned. The defendant hoped that the Criminal Court of Appeal will consider the issues they raised and will rule a fair decision.
Vazgen Khachikyan also ensured that did not intend to apply to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that he was “a law-abiding citizen of the RA and will be subject to the decisions of the Judicial System.” In an epilogue, he sarcastically thanked the court of first instance saying, “I think that 12 years would be enough for me to be corrected.”
One of the defendants, Vigen Gevorgyan was very active at today’s court session. The First instance Court had sentenced him to five and a half years in prison. During the trial the defendant behaved inappropriately, laughing, make a grimaces to the hall, and blowing kisses. He swore at the correspondent of Iravaban.net when the latter tried to take photos.
For information: Formerly Vazgen Khachikyan, the former head of the Social Security Service, was sentenced to 12 years in prison with confiscation of personal property no more than 290 million AMD.
The next hearing is scheduled on 24 February.
Lilit Shaboyan, Hermine Virabyan