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Prison Warden Accused of Crime Still Employed; Prisoners Afraid to Testify Against Him – Source

The deputy warden of  “Hrazdan” penitentiary, Samvel Babayan, who is involved as a suspect in a criminal case initiated by the Special Investigative Service for selling cell phones in the prison, continues to hold his position, Epress.am was told by sources in the prison. Another accused prison staff member, Leonid Mkrtchyan, is also still employed. 

According to the case material, “Nubarashen” penitentiary inmate Armen Shamiryan had come to an agreement with Babayan in order to sell cell phones in “Hrazdan” penitentiary. Shamiryan’s family, friends, and relatives bought the phones, while Samvel Babayan allowed their entrance to the prison. The entire profit from the sale went to Babayan, while Shamiryan had originally agreed to split the profit 50/50, however the deputy warden decided not to implement the original agreement. Babayan is charged with abusing his official position.

Epress.am had written [ARM] about the incident back in September 12, 2014, however the Penitentiary Department Public Relations Division Head Gor Ghlechyan had said that the deputy warden was being slandared. Subsequently, the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly’s Vanadzor Office began dealing with the case, noting that the issue was related to a nearly 5 million drams ($10,500) worth of cell phone sales.

Since initiating a criminal case, a dozens of witnesses have testified, and a large number of witnesses are still to be questioned.

“Over 10 witnesses are still imprisoned, so they are afraid to give testimonies against the deputy warden, who continues to hold his position,” our source in “Hrazdan” penitentiary said. 

Speaking to Epress.am, lawyer Harutyun Baghdasaryan clarified that the criminal judicial code does not legally demand that a suspect in a criminal case be suspended from work, however, the that can be done by the prosecutor.

“There are a few precedents that show the prosecutor can file such motions. For example, if the prosecutor thinks that the suspect could commit other crimes when not suspended from work or that the suspect’s continued employment could violate the witnesses' free expression, then the prosecutor can engage in similar interventions, however he is not required to,”Baghdasaryan explained.