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ArmenianLiberty: Armenian MP Flown Home After Dubai Arrest

A wealthy member of Armenia’s parliament returned home on Wednesday almost
two weeks after being arrested in the United Arab Emirates on reported suspicion
of shoplifting.

Hakob Hakobian, who is affiliated with the pro-establishment People’s Deputy
parliamentary group, came back on a Dubai-Yerevan flight with his son and could
not be reached to comment on conflicting reports about circumstances of the
highly embarrassing case.

“As a human being, he feels offended because he was accused unfairly,” said
Vladimir Badalian, a fellow member of the People’s Deputy and also a
businessman.

Badalian claimed that the Armenian media are also to blame for tarnishing
Hakobian’s reputation. “The media should have waited until he returns home and
provides full and accurate information,” he said.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry and its diplomatic mission in the UAE have
declined to officially specify reasons for Hakobian’s arrest to refute or
confirm media reports that the lawmaker, who holds sway in the southern town of
Echmiadzin, was detained along with his son Armen and the latter’s friend after
allegedly stealing expensive clothing in a Dubai shop. The Hakobians were
reportedly set free on bail after the friend, identified as Hrant Davtian,
pleaded guilty to the charges. Davtian continues to be kept in a local prison.

Meanwhile, Armenia’s ambassador to the UAE, Arshak Poladian, claimed that the
parliamentarian was taken into custody on an arrest warrant issued by Interpol
in the name of Hakob Hakobian. An ensued investigation found that the two are
different persons, Poladian told RFE/RL from Abu Dhabi.

Asked whether Hakobian, better known to Armenians with his “Choyt” nickname, was
actually suspected of shoplifting, the envoy replied: “You had better talk to
him.”

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