YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The court of the first instance of Yerevan’s Avan and Nor-Nork communities–presided over by Judge Gagik Poghossian–sentenced defendants Armen Ter-Sahakian and Alik Grigorian to death with confiscation of all their private property.
Defendants Suren Haroutiunian and Arshak Shukhian were sentenced to 11 and 10 years in prison respectively. Both had been under arrest since 1994 and have served 6 years in prison. Israel Sargssian was sentenced to 9 years in prison. Marzpet Grigorian–Avag Davtian and Aghasi Avetissian were sentenced to 8 years in prison each. During the preliminary investigation–Aghasi Avetissian spent six months in custody–but later as his health condition worsened he was released on bond. Avetissian was again taken into custody in the court-room after the verdict was read out. Defendant Gevorf Darbinian was sentenced to 4 years in prison. Under the court’s verdict–all the private property of the above-mentioned people will be confiscated. They will serve their terms in high-security corrective labor penitentiaries.
Thus–the court found proof of the charge of racketeering brought against all the nine defendants–and the first-degree murder charge brought against five of them. According to the files of the case–based on the instructions of the then interior minister Vano Siradeghian–Armen Ter-Sahakian set up a criminal gang. Acting on the instructions of the minister–the gang murdered Astarak Executive Committee Chairman Hovhannes Sukiassian and his driver–Railroad Department Head Hambartsum Ghandilian. It has been proven that Alik Grigorian and Artur Aloyan were involved in the murder of Hovhannes Sukiassian and his driver. Israel Sargssian and Arshak Shukhian were involved in the attempted murder of Vladimir Grigorian. In all three cases Suren Haroutiunian acted as the driver of the criminals’ car.
In his late testimony during the court hearings–the principal defendant in the case Armen Ter-Sahakian asserted that the killings had been ordered by the former Internal Troops Commander Artsrun Margarian. The necessity of the murders was motivated by state interests.
The verdict aroused indignation among the relatives of the defendants–even though the defendants in the trial that lasted for over a year had confessed to participating in the aforementioned crimes. The verdict is open to appeal within fifteen days.