A professional criminal Merab Kalashov is not in Armenia. He was extradited and handed over to French law enforcement bodies, but a criminal case has been filed for his illegal extradition and beating. Merab Kalashov’s lawyer Armen Melkonyan told Forrights.am: “A criminal investigation is underway, but I have no information about its course.”

On November 6 of the last year, officers of the General Department of Criminal Investigation of the Police, in the framework of the undertaking of clearing Armenia from criminals, took professional criminal (a “thief in law”) Merab Kalashov, nicknamed Tbiliski, off the Nubarashen prison.

French law enforcement officials accuse Kalashov of committing serious crimes – money laundering and support of organized crime, which led to his arrest. Kalashov was held for about nine months in the Armavir prison. Recently we learned from the Armavir PI that Kalashov was no longer in Armenia. The Armenian government extradited him to French law enforcement bodies. No information has been officially released on the subject.

Was Kalashov handed over to French law enforcement? The police told us to apply to the prosecutor’s office, and the prosecutor’s office sent us to the Ministry of Justice, which carried out the extradition of the criminal, because Kalashov has had the status of a convict in France.

There has been no decision to extradite him. He was sent to France illegally. His imprisonment term was expiring on July 5, after which he was to be released under the law, and, in order not to release, he was extradited. This is the opinion of Kalashov’s lawyer Armen Melkonyan. “He was stolen and handed over. He was due to be released that day, his detention expired, but people stole him by the government’s will, and, without an official decision, handed him over to France. We filed a complaint to the court of cassation against this extradition. The case was pending, and he was illegally extradited without waiting for a cassation court ruling. There has never been such a thing in the history of Armenia. We love being more Catholic than the Pope, and wanted to pretend to be friends with France at the expense of Kalashov and our justice,” the lawyer said.

Melkonyan last saw his client at Zvartnots airport, beaten, with multiple injuries to his body, and his head fractured. He presented reports of crime on the basis of which a criminal case was instituted.

Merab Kalashov, 43, was considered one of the old, “classical” thieves in the law. According to our information, his cell door has not been closed for the whole 9 months. However, the criminal almost did not enjoy his privilege. The door was open, but he could hardly get out of the cell.

Syuzan Simonyan

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