The closed-door trial of a prominent American-Armenian entrepreneur in Armenia is highlighting concerns about the concept of presumption of innocence. Although few details are known about the government’s case against the defendant, who is facing child sex-related charges, many involved in the case appear to be assuming the worst.
Serop Der-Boghossian, the 69-year-old co-owner of Metal Prince Ltd. Corporation and a former advisor to Prime Minister Tikran Sarkisian, was arrested in February and initially charged with forcing boys to engage in illicit sexual activities and coercing “them into homosexuality.” The government later upgraded the charge to “forced sexual acts performed on under-age” victims, a crime that carries a potential 15-year prison sentence.
Der-Boghossian’s trial opened on July 6 in Lori, the northern province where, for the past 10 years, he has operated an ore mine near the village of Akhtala. He denied the initial charge against him, saying that it was intended as a ploy “to seize the result of [my] many years’ hard work” at Metal Prince.
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Gayane Abrahamyan is a reporter for ArmeniaNow.com in Yerevan.