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Armenian Defense Ministry Changed the Charge Without Notice in Case of Soldier’s Death

The Investigation Service of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia (RA) launched criminal proceedings under RA Criminal Code Article 104 Section 1 (murder) in the case of the June 20 death of Grisha Khachatryan in one of the military units in Araraz marz (province), according to a statement issued by the ministry today. 

Note, military expert Ruben Martirosyan, who was present at the soldier's autopsy on June 21, told Epress.am that initially the criminal case was filed under Article 373 Section 3 ("breach of rules for handling weapons, ammunition and items dangerous for others, which negligently caused human death"). Martirosyan claimed that he and relatives of the deceased saw that document at the morgue. 

Martirosyan thus argues that the charge was reclassified; however, the Ministry of Defense didn't report this in its statement. After news spread of the death of the 19-year-old military conscript from the village of Sarnakunk in Syunik marz, RA Ministry of Defense spokesperson Artsrun Hovhannisyan said that, according to preliminary data, Khachatryan died from an enemy bullet. Later, the Ministry of Defense issued a statement in which it said that Khachatryan died at the military post, and details of the incident were being confirmed. Afterwards, RA Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan told journalists that Khachatryan, according to preliminary data, received a fatal gunshot wound as a result of a breach of the rules for use of weapons. 

The press service of the Ministry of Defense today also stated that on suspicion of comitting the crime stipulated in Article 375 Section 1 ("abuse of power, transgression of authority or administrative dereliction, committed by a commander or official"), contract soldier, Sergeant Vardan Kirakosyan of the same military unit was arrested.

"During the preliminary investigation, the staff of the [military] post were questioned. In order to obtain clarification of the many issues of importance to the preliminary investigation, assigned were ballistic, biological, and forensic examinations, as well as the examination of fingerprints and other traces. Only after getting the results from the examinations assigned to the criminal case will it be possible to assess the testimonies of the persons questioned and reliability of the evidence acquired," reads the defense ministry's statement.