Former Police Chief “Sentenced” for Corruption

Former Police Chief “Sentenced” for Corruption

Vladimir Gasparian, a former chief of the Armenian police, was sentenced on Tuesday to six years in prison on corruption charges, which he denies.

Despite the sentence, Gasparian will not serve prison time due to the statute of limitations and a general amnesty declared by Armenian authorities in 2019.

A court in Yerevan also handed shorter prison sentences to Gasparian’s former deputy, Levon Yeranosian, and two other former senior police officers who were tried alongside him in January 2023. They, too, have pleaded guilty to related charges and will avoid imprisonment.

Gasparian was convicted of abuse of power, embezzlement, and waste of public funds. Specifically, the court found that he had illegally allowed military personnel to serve as drivers and bodyguards for former President Serzh Sarkisian’s two brothers while serving as chief of the Armenian military police and deputy defense minister from 1997 to 2011.

In his closing remarks on Monday, Gasparian’s lawyer, Aleksandr Kocubayev, argued that the permissions were “abnormal but not criminal.” He contended that members of Armenia’s current leadership, including parliament speaker Alen Simonian, have also used special police officers as bodyguards.

Gasparian, 65, was also found guilty of illegally gifting state-owned property to police officers between 2011 and 2018, during his tenure as chief of the national police service. Kocubayev maintained that the officers were simply rewarded for “good service.”

After the verdict was announced, Gasparian told journalists that he intends to appeal and seek an acquittal.

Gasparian, known for his flamboyant behavior and statements, headed the Armenian police during former President Sarkisian’s administration. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan dismissed him immediately after taking office in May 2018.