YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—President Serzh Sarkisian has expressed outrage at what Armenian prosecutors call a murder cover-up that led to the sacking of two high-ranking police officials.
Sarkisian cited the case as he criticized the Armenian police and pledged to crack down on corruption and incompetence within their ranks at an extraordinary meeting with top law-enforcement officials late on Monday.
Major-General Hovannes Tamamian, the controversial head of the Directorate General of Criminal Investigations at the national police service, and Colonel Varuzhan Adamian, the police chief of Yerevan’s Arabkir district, were sacked late last month.
Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian said through a spokesman that he himself asked the national police chief, Alik Sargsian, to fire the two men because of a botched police investigation into the deadly shooting of a man in Arabkir in May last year. The spokesman, Shahen Tonoyan, said that police investigators deliberately failed to prosecute the murder perpetrator and charged another individual instead.
“The whole public knows that a murder occurred, knows who committed the murder, and yet police officers distorted the case, alleging that it was committed by someone else,” President Sarkisian raged at the police leadership.
“Instead of you, I feel ashamed. You should have been the first to come forward and say to that high-ranking policeman, ‘You immoral type, why are you putting our system to shame?’” he said in an apparent reference to Tamamian.
Sarkisian portrayed the scandal as an example of a lack of professionalism among some police officers. “We don’t need unprofessional policemen,” he said. “Nor do the system and the society need them. Nobody needs them.”
Sarkisian also said that his administration will get tougher on “unacceptable phenomena” like police corruption and abuse of power. He did not specify if that also includes ill-treatment of criminal suspects in police custody, which human rights groups say is commonplace in Armenia.