YEREVAN, October 9. / ARKA /. Two MPs from the Prosperous Armenia party - Naira Zohrabyan and Vahe Hovhannisyan – are ready to cede their credentials in the Armenian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to ex-foreign minister Vartan Oskanian, knowing that it would give him additional immunity.
"Many members of the PACE and representatives of its leadership are seriously concerned about the Oskanian case indicating their full support for him," they said today in a statement.
According to the statement, all political forces and national delegations to PACE were distributed with packages of materials containing the details of the case, "of which they were already informed by their ambassadors to Armenia."
"We got a serious guarantee that the case will be in the focus of PACE. We were asked to promptly report on further developments relating to Oskanian case," the document says.
On Monday Oskanian was summoned to the National Security Service (NSS) and was formally charged with one count of particularly large-scale theft and one count of money laundering. Oskanian was also asked to testify as a ‘defendant’ in the high-profile case, but he refused to do so invoking his constitutional right.
Oskanian was stripped of his immunity last week by the National Assembly after a majority of his fellow lawmakers allowed his prosecution in a secret ballot boycotted by the parliamentary minority factions, including his Prosperous Armenia Party. Oskanian argues that his prosecution had “political implications” saying the government’s goal is to “step up pressure” on him and his party.
He is charged by the National Security Service with misappropriating a $1.4-million donation that was made by U.S. philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr. to his Yerevan-based Civilitas Foundation in late 2010. -0-