Armenia's National Security Services confirm the detention of former defense minister
The National Security Service of Armenia (SNB) has the detention of former Defense Minister David Tonoyan, who held this post in 2018-2020. He is suspected of “embezzlement on an especially large scale”.
The SNB also confirms the detention of David Galstyan, the head of a company that supplied weapons to the Armenian army.
Both were detained in the framework of a criminal case investigating the abuse of high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces of Armenia in the process of supplying ammunition for the army.
On September 29, the Hraparak newspaper reported this, referring to its sources. The newspaper also said that a search had been carried out in the minister’s apartment before the arrest.
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What is known so far
The NSS reports that the detainees were charged with embezzlement of funds on an especially large scale – 2,277,323,840 drams [about $4.7 million], as well as “committing forgeries and socially dangerous acts”.
Petitions for their arrest were submitted to the court.
According to the National Security Service, within the framework of the criminal case, several criminal cases have been launched against other former and current high-ranking officials of the country’s Armed Forces.
However, the former minister’s lawyer reports that David Tonoyan does not admit his guilt. Moreover, the lawyer argues that both the arrest and the motion for arrest are illegal since the court had previously made a decision within the framework of the same criminal case. Tonoyan’s guilt has been refuted on the basis of evidence already obtained by the court.
As for David Galstyan, director of Mosston Engineering, which for many years was a supplier of weapons for the Armenian Armed Forces, he was arrested once in February 2020. However, in May, the Court of Appeal overturned the trial court’s decision and he was released.
According to the SNB, David Galstyan’s company in 2018 signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense for the supply of shells produced in 1983-1986, but supplied 1977 ammunition.
It was found that in terms of tactical characteristics they were significantly inferior to those required by the army, they “could not solve combat missions.” In this regard, the detainee is suspected of embezzling more than $1 million.
The lawyer for the head of Mosston Engineering said in February that the court had been presented with irrefutable evidence of the compliance of the supplies with the requirements of the contract:
“In fact, this episode, dating back to the 70s, is very funny, because the case materials with all the evidence presented, refute that the shells of the 70s were delivered. People who are not specialists, could not see the difference between the production date of a particular projectile and the specific numbers indicated on the details of the projectile. This is the problem”.
Who else is involved in the case
Since September 29, Armenian media have been reporting on the arrest of Stepan Galstyan, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Armenia under the same case. The information fo him being invited to the National Security Service has been officially confirmed.
Earlier, the media published information about the detention of the former head of the aviation department of the Armed Forces, Avetik Muradyan.
The SNB report did not give a name, but it was said that a high-ranking military man knew that one of the supplying companies had imported expired and low-quality ammunition back in 2011, but this did not prevent them from purchasing them and paid $4.7 million from the state budget. From 2009 to 2019, Major General Avetik Muradyan served as the head of the aviation department.
The Armenian media outlets report that in the near future the arrest of the former Minister of Defense of Armenia Seyran Ohanyan and the former Chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces Yuri Khachaturov is possible. Both held these positions in 2008-2016.
The latest statement by the SNB says that “large-scale operational-search and investigative measures are being taken to fully disclose the entire chain of crime and identify all persons involved in it”.