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Diceased Soldier’s Family Learned of His Death From a TV News Report

The family of 20-year-old Armenian soldier Harutyun Hambaryan, who died from a gunshot wound to the head on May 8, learned of his death from the news ticker during the evening news on Armenia TV channel, Harutyun's father, Hrayr Hambaryan, told the representatives of Helsinki Citizens' Assembly Vanadzor Office (HCAV), who visited the family on Tuesday, May 12.

The surname displayed on the ticker, as stated by the father, was misspelled – instead of Hambaryan there was written Ghambaryan – which somewhat relieved the relatives. However, about 10 minutes later a military commissariat staffer informed Harutyun's father on the phone that the young man “had been wounded and was being transferred to Yerevan.”

The soldier's relatives told HCAV representatives that on the day of the incident, allegedly, there were talks in the military unit that the cause of death was unclear. While the next day the Third garrison investigative unit of General Military Investigative Department of RA Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case [pursuant to the Part 1 of the Article 110 of RA Criminal Code, incitement to suicide]. However, the relatives said they did not believe the suicide theory.

According to Hrayr Hambaryan, the autopsy was also attended by Harutyun's family and friends. “The gunshot injury was in the top central part of Harutyun's head,” the soldier's sister, Hasmik Hambaryan, said. Harutyun was suffering from shortsightedness and wore glasses; the soldier's body was found lying prone on the ground, and his glasses were shattered into tiny pieces.

Harutyun had always been happy with his service and duty station, since the military base where he served was quite away from the front-line, Hasmik Hambaryan said. According to her, the soldier had also said that it was relatively easy to serve in the Air Defense Forces. Harutyun had a phone conversation with his sister one day before the incident, and, according to Hasmik, was in high spirits: “When he learned that our parents were busy with spring sowing, he said 'Not long now; tell them I'll do the next one when I'm back'”.