YEREVAN (RFE/RL–Yerkir)–Aleksan Harutiunian–the presidential adviser for foreign policy issues–looks set to stand a trial on charges of complicity in the recent murders of Armenia’s prime minister–parliament speaker and other officials after a Yerevan court on Saturday upheld his arrest.
The court in the city’s Arabkir and Kanaker districts ruled that state prosecutors conducting the inquiry into the October 27 killings have sufficient grounds to press on with their charges against Harutiunian. One of President Robert Kocharian’s closest aides was formally accused of "prodding" five gunmen to go on a shooting spree during a parliament session.
Harutiunian’s lawyer has confirmed reports that the prosecutors’ case against his client is based on the testimony of Nairi Hunanian–the gang leader. The lawyer–Ruben Sahakian–told RFE/RL shortly before Saturday’s court ruling that the investigators have presented him with no evidence that would justify Harutiunian’s prosecution. He said the presidential aide saw signs of torture on Hunanian’s face during their joint interrogation last week.
Some Armenian newspapers have alleged that physical pressure is being exerted on Hunanian and members of his gang–suggesting that the team of investigators led by chief military prosecutor Gagik Jahangirian is keen to use the case against Kocharian for political purposes. Jahangirian has close ties with Kocharian’s powerful opponents led by Aram Sargsyan–the brother and successor of slain Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan.
The Yerevan-based Yerkir newspaper reported Monday that Armenian Revolutionary Federation Executive Council of Armenia member and the chairman of the parliamentary commission on national security Vahan Hovanessian praised Kocharian for his decorum in handling the arrest and subsequent indictment of his close ally and adviser.
Hovanessian said that Kocharian acted astutely in not allowing any obstacle to get in the way of the Oct. 27. investigation.