Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Human Traffickers Convicted in Vanadzor

On March 17, Arusyak Melkumyan, a notorious Vanadzor pimp, was sentenced to four years in prison by the Court of First Instance of Lori Marz, Judge Barik Grigoryan presiding, on charges of human trafficking. Her partner in crime, Kalipse Hovhannisyan, was sentenced to two years.

In Vanadzor, the 51-year-old Arusyak Melkumyan is known as Karine and considered to be the area's most powerful madam. Karine, who is married with no children, keeps girls in her house, selling their services to men, and sends them abroad to work as prostitutes as well. She has two prior convictions for human trafficking; the first time she was sent to prison for a year, and the second time she was released in a state amnesty.

Karine is known for her cunning and treachery. Once there were serious accusations that she was involved in trafficking in children, but there was insufficient evidence to launch a criminal case to investigate the allegations.

For eight years Karine's main business partner has been 56-year-old Kalipse Hovhannisyan.

Investigators discovered that Kalipse Hovhannisyan had come to Vanadzor following a phone call from notorious Dubai pimp Narine Khachatryan. Kalipse was supposed to recruit good-looking women who were divorced or had financial troubles. Staying as a guest at Karine's house, Kalipse suggested that she could make a lot of money recruiting girls. Karine passed the lucrative proposal on to Anzhela Tzatinyan. In August of 2003, Anzhela brought Karine a girl named Anna.

Facing serious financial troubles, Anna's mother had agreed to send her daughter to Turkey, to work for high wages as a babysitter or housemaid. Anna, under the escort of Kalipse and Angela, departed from Yerevan for Moscow. There she was met by Sevak Simonyan, Arayik Martirosyan, and Arayik Aghajanyan, who provided her with a forged passport and sent her to Dubai.

Several days after Anna left, her mother, I.P., visited Karine and met Kalipse Hovhannisyan, who told her that Anna was in Dubai. Anna's mother demanded that her daughter be brought back, but Kalipse persuaded her not to say anything, reassuring her that her daughter was safe. When Anna's mother spoke with her on the telephone, she understood that her daughter was being threatened and could not speak freely.

Anna worked as a prostitute in Dubai for a year, under the control of Narine Khachatryan and supervised by Lilit Hambartsumyan. Finally, to escape from her bosses, Anna surrendered to the Dubai police. Five months later she was deported to Armenia. Her mother found out what was going on in early 2005, while her daughter was being detained in a Dubai jail.

Anna is now preparing to get married. Her future husband doesn't know her story, and the girl is in an extremely tense psychological state.

According to prosecutor Armen Boshnagyan, a senior investigator with the Office of the Prosecutor General, the victim understands that the main criminals are Angela Tsatinyan and Narine Khachatryan, who are wanted by Interpol. However, Anna also emphasized that Karine and Kalipse are not innocent.

Police prevent the trafficking of an underage girl to Dubai

A preliminary investigation determined that Kalipse Hovhannisyan's business with Dubai pimp Narine Khachatryan was not restricted to tricking Anna into prostitution.

In a closed hearing in Lori's Court of First Instance, Kalipse Hovhannisyan had been found guilty of sending underage Anush to Dubai as well. In 2003, Vanadzor resident Gayane Matinyan had suggested to her neighbor's daughter that she go to work in Turkey with Gayane's parents, who were already working there. Anush, 17, bought a ticket to Turkey and gave her passport to Gayane to get a visa. Later, she found out that she was instead going to Dubai and why. She refused at first, but Gayane threatened to spread rumors about her and ruin her reputation. Anush agreed, to avoid humiliation. A visa was issued by an official whom investigators have been unable to identify. However, the police found out about their plans in time, and the ring did not manage to transport the girl to Dubai.

Investigators discovered Anush was to be transported to Dubai with the help of Kalipse Hovhannisyan.

Narine Khachatryan, 33, Anzhela Tsatinyan, 32, are wanted by Interpol.

Judge Barik Grigoryan sentenced Arusyak Melkumyan (a.k.a. Karine) to four years in prison, taking into account the state of her health—she has a second-degree disability. Kalipse Hovhanisyan was sentenced to two years in prison. I her case, the court took into account the fact that she had no prior convictions, and also was in bad health, having suffered a heart attack and lung inflammation while in jail in Abovyan.

Naira Bulghadaryan / March 27, 2006 / Hetq Online

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