A U.S. businessman of Armenian descent has been found dead in Armenia three weeks after disappearing in unclear circumstances.
Nazareth Berberian, 57, reportedly went missing after leaving his apartment in downtown Yerevan late on April 25. His car was found abandoned in the parking lot of the Zvartnots international airport, 10 kilometers south of the capital, several days later. Earlier this month, Berberian’s California-based wife and children promised a $250,000 reward for information about his whereabouts.
The Armenian police said at the weekend that they have found the businessman’s body bearing “traces of violence” in a ravine near a section of a highway 25 kilometers north of Yerevan.
In a written statement, the police indicated that they have already identified suspects in Berberian’s kidnapping and subsequent murder. “In the interests of the investigation, circumstances of the case and names of the perpetrators of the crime will not be disclosed [for now,]” the statement said. A source familiar with the investigation told RFE/RL that the police have already made at least one arrest.
A native of Armenia, Berberian moved back to the country in 1999 and engaged in a range of business activities there. His assets included a carpet factory in a village in the southern Ararat region. His Linareh company was also building a hotel in a prime location in central Yerevan.
“Friends and family have affirmed that Mr. Berberian has no known enemies and that he has been conducting business in Armenia since 1999 without any problem,” the Shahan Natalie Family Foundation, an Armenian-American charity, said in a statement released on behalf of them on May 7.