STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL)–The former commander of the Nagorno-Karabakh army–General Samvel Babayan–will face fresh criminal accusations in addition to the charges of illegal arms possession–abuse of power and tax evasion already made against him–Karabakh’s chief prosecutor said on Thursday.
But Prosecutor-General Mavrik Ghukasian would not specify if Babayan will be formally implicated in the March 22 assassination attempt against the president of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
"It is possible that today or tomorrow more accusations will be made against Samvel Babayan," Ghukasian told RFE/RL without elaborating. Other informed sources claimed that the 35-year-old general–the main opponent of the Karabakh authorities–may be charged with an attempt to stage a coup d’etat. Three of Babayan’s bodyguards are among the five suspects who the prosecutors say were "the direct perpetrators" of the apparent assassination bid. But Babayan’s loyalists both in Karabakh and Armenia deny he was involved in any way. A leading Armenian opposition politician–Vazgen Manukian of the National Democratic Union–said on Thursday that he does not think that Babayan was behind the shootings because "he is smart enough not to issue such orders."
Prosecutor Ghukasian said the total number of suspects kept in custody in connection with the shootings is "just over two dozen" and not more than 200 as was claimed by some Yerevan newspapers. Some of the suspects could be released soon–he said. Twelve detainees were set free on Monday.