Prosecutors agreed on Wednesday to the release from prison of Manvel Grigorian, a retired Armenian army general facing a string of criminal charges, following a reportedly serious deterioration of his health condition.

A Yerevan court judge presiding over the ongoing trial of Grigorian and his wife Nazik Amirian ordered him freed during an emergency hearing initiated by the trial prosecutors. A member of an interagency government commission monitoring Grigorian’s health told the court that the once powerful general is now in a “life-threatening condition” which is “not compatible with arrest.”

The 63-year-old Grigorian, who suffers from multiple diseases, has been treated in a Yerevan hospital in recent months. He was transferred to the hospital’s intensive care unit on Tuesday.

Grigorian’s lawyers have repeatedly demanded his release on health grounds. Both the court and the prosecutors rejected those demands until now.

Grigorian, who had served as Armenia’s deputy defense minister from 2000-2008, stands accused of illegal arms possession, embezzlement, extortion and tax evasion. Some of these charges were also brought against his wife. The couple continued to deny any wrongdoing when it went on trial in May 2019.

Grigorian was arrested in June 2018 following searches conducted at his properties in and around the town of Echmiadzin. Investigators found there many weapons, ammunition, medication and field rations for soldiers provided by the Defense Ministry.

They also discovered canned food and several vehicles donated by Armenians at one of Grigorian’s mansions. An official video of the searches conducted by the National Security Service (NSS) caused shock and indignation in the country.

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