YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenian prosecutors have formally asked authorities in the Czech Republic to extradite a fugitive nephew of former President Serzh Sarkisian accused of illegal arms possession and drug trafficking.
We sent all necessary extradition documents to the Czech Republic’s law-enforcement bodies on December 28,” a spokeswoman for the Office of the Prosecutor-General, Arevik Khachatrian, said on Thursday.
“I can’t give any details at the moment,” Khachatrian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
The Czech police tracked down and arrested the suspect, Narek Sarkisian, in Prague on December 6. He reportedly produced a fake Guatemalan passport identifying him as Franklin Gonzalez.
Sarkisian fled Armenia shortly before his family’s villa in Yerevan was searched by the National Security Service (NSS) in early July. The NSS claimed that 37-year-old had asked one of his friends to hide his illegally owned guns, cocaine and other drugs in a safer place. It released a video showing two suitcases purportedly filled with those items.
Sarkisian’s younger brother Hayk was arrested and charged with attempted murder and illegal arms possession in July. A Yerevan court freed him on bail in September.
Hayk and Narek are the sons of Serzh Sarkisian’s younger brother Aleksandr. The latter is thought to have made a big fortune in the past two decades.
A $30 million Armenian bank account of Aleksandr Sarkisian was frozen this summer as part of a separate inquiry conducted by the NSS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian publicly demanded in September that he “return the money to the state budget.”
The ex-president’s brother insisted that Pashinian’s demand and the freezing of his bank account are illegal. He said that the authorities have not come up with any proof that the sum was earned illegally. Still, the 62-year-old made clear that he will be ready to donate “a part of the financial means legally belonging to me” to the state if his and his family members’ assets are unblocked.