Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ex Policeman Convicted of Human Trafficking
[October 24, 2005]

The Court of First Instance of Yerevan's Kentron and Nork-Marash District has sentenced former police officer Alik Gasparyan to five years and six months in prison, in accordance with Article 132 of the Armenian Criminal Code. (See also: The Promise of a Fairy Tale Life Draws Women to Dubai)

During the preliminary invrstigation, Gasparyan had stated that he was guilty on all charges. In court on October 12th, however, he contradicted his earlier statements, presenting an altogether different story. Gasparyan now claimed that it was not he who had decieved Anahit but she who had decieved him. The defendant said that after he first met the woman, she began to pursue him, and insisted on seeing him again. “I didn't have enough money to see her. Anahit brought her jewelry, and we went to the gold market where it was valued at $90. She is lying when she says that it's worth $400.” Alik handed the $90 over to Anahit, and then she gave him $30 to take her out.

“We took that $30 and went out. After she had a couple of drinks, she started crying and told me that a policeman had raped her daughter. I told her I could take care of that problem , but Anahit said she would do it herself,” Gasparyan recounted in court . Several days later, Anahit told Alik that her daughter had been tricked into going to Dubai and that she had to get her back. Alik asked his friend Lusik Khocharyan, who was temporarily staying in Dubai, to make an entry visa for Anahit. Anahit went to Dubai. A month later Alik also left for Dubai. On the fourth day of his stay, Alik “ found to his surprise that Anahit had come to Dubai not to find her daughter, but to work [as a prostiture].”

As he testified, t he defendant mentioned the names of well-known Dubai pimps in Dubai with such smoothness and ease that the judge asked him how, if he was just an innocent victim, he was so familiar with pimps who had long been wanted by the police. Gasparyan replied, “Well, Your Honor, when there are twenty people in one room and most of them are women, what do you expect? If each one of them says just one thing, that's enough. Besides, I saw a lot, understood a lot of stuff.”

Asled why he had pled guilty during the investigation, Gasparyan said, “When I was being interrogated by the prosecuters, the detective told me that I'd better make a confession—that way, they wouldn't keep me in jail, I could go home and come back when the court started hearing the case. I didn't want my family to find out anything. So I pled guilty.”

Alik Gasparyan had confessed during his face-to-face meeting with Anahit as well. Asked by the judge why he had not stated verbally or in writing that his first statements w ere false, and that the detective had provided prosectutors with incorrect information, Gasparyan said, “Am I the kind of man who writes something down on somebody or points a finger at somebody? I thought that I'd tell the truth in court and that's it.”

This was not the first time that Alik Gasparyan appeared as a defendant in court. In 1996 he was convicted of violating Article 86, paragraph 2 of the Armenian Criminal Code, “ Confiscation of material equity through stealing.”

The prosecutor requested that the defendant be sentenced to six years in prison. Anahit's lawyer Eduard Aghajanyan also asked the court to confiscate $400 from the defendant for the jewelry. Gasparyan himself requested several more days to prepare his closing statement.

Thus the stement Alik Gasparyan made in court on October 17 th came as something of a surprise. “I thought about what to say for some time, but now I don't have anything to say. I only ask the court to give me the lightest sentence possible”.

The court sentenced Alik Gasparyan to five years and six months in prison, but denied Anahit's request for $400 compensation for her jewelry.

Varduhi Zakaryan

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