Court Sets Deadline For Property Transfer In Armenian Genocide Museu

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Wednesday May 11, 2011

Deadline is May 23; Assembly motion for new trial is denied

National Bank of Washington building (center) and four structures to
the left reverted to the Cafesjian Foundation.

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Washington – The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
has entered its final judgment in the Armenian Genocide museum and
memorial case, ordering on May 9 that all of the properties assembled
for the project revert to the Cafesjian Family Foundation (CFF)
by May 23. The order comes following the court’s initial ruling in
favor of CFF made on January 26.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly also denied the motion for a new trial
filed by the Armenian Assembly of America, the losing party.

“I welcome the court’s concluding verdict that finally frees us all
to build this long-awaited museum and memorial about the fact and
ongoing consequences of the Armenian Genocide,” CFF chairman Gerard L.

Cafesjian said, commenting on the verdict.

“Thankfully, this case is finally over,” said John B. Williams,
counsel for CFF. “The properties have to be transferred to CFF in the
next two weeks. That is what we have all been fighting for. We hope
that the Assembly leadership will be willing to amicably resolve the
few loose ends that remain.”

CFF board member Ross Vartian reiterated the call to the leadership
of the Armenian Assembly to “cease blocking the project and instead
to abide by the May 9 ruling ordering the transfer of all properties
to the CFF no later than May 23, 2011.”

“Further delay serves no constructive purpose,” Vartian added in a
comment for The Armenian Reporter, which is published by Mr.


Key elements of the final verdict

The judge ordered the “transfer the property to CFF in accordance with
D.C. law by no later than May 23, 2011.” And further that the transfer
take place “without any reimbursement requirement and without regard
to any tax consequences that might result from the transfer.”

The latter clause is significant since the AAA was seeking to further
delay the property transfer by claiming that hypothetical property
appreciation could possibly have tax consequences.

The Court also asked a magistrate judge to determine the exact amount
of compensation due to Mr. Cafesjian for legal fees he paid as he
was forced to defend himself against what were proved in court to be
groundless accusations.

The court will further probe the issue of whether AAA acted in bad
faith by delaying production of documents until the eve of trial. The
court also noted the “the damning contents of many of the[se]
documents.” If the judge is not satisfied by AAA’s explanation, she
may order payment of additional expenses incurred by Mr. Cafesjian
as a result.

The court determined that AAA leadership was not acting in violation
of court orders when it recently moved the collections of the Armenian
National Institute – intended for the future museum and memorial –
from the premises to an off-site storage facility.

Denying motion for new trial

The court also denied the motion for a new trial filed by AAA as it
“failed to present a valid basis for ordering a new trial.”

With an affidavit filed by Van Krikorian, the motion alleged that
the court was biased in favor of Mr. Cafesjian because of the judge’s
shared interest in art and alleged connections with former president
Bill Clinton.

“Based on Van Krikorian’s declaration, it appears that the filing of
the motion was motivated by the fact that [AAA] received a largely
adverse decision from the Court rather than by the sudden discovery
of an alleged bias” in favor of Mr. Cafesjian, the judge wrote in
the memorandum opinion.

The court also noted that the motion “does not state that the
declaration of Van Krikorian was submitted in good faith” as is

The court called the conspiracy theory concocted as part of their
motion as “entirely speculative.”

“The causal connection between the Court’s rulings and its alleged
interest is far too attenuated to warrant recusal,” the court

Going forward

Speaking from the steps of the future site of the museum and memorial
on April 24 Ross Vartian stressed that “CFF pledges to relaunch this
project with the participation of all interested organizations and

“We will do so in common cause and urgent purpose,” Vartian said.

“Together we will complete this first ever museum and memorial in the
Diaspora dedicated to this crime against humanity by April 24, 2015.

Our martyrs and survivors deserve nothing less.”

To view May 9, 2011 memorandum opinion
outlining the final judgment in the case visit

To view May 9, 2011 memorandum opinion
denying the motion for a new trial visit

To view January 26 memorandum opinion
with the original court ruling visit

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