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Defendants Plead Not Guilty to Veteran’s Beating; Victim’s Relatives Motion for Prosecutor’s Recusal

Defendants in the case involving the beating of Karabakh War veteran Vardan Tumanyan pleaded not guilty to the charges against them on Tuesday, September 29. Co-defendant Ghukasyan admitted in court that he had hit Tumanyan; however, Ghukasyan stated, he had done it “only once.”

Recall, Tumanyan, 55, died in July 2014, one day after being brutally beaten in a Yerevan yard. Gevorg Sargsyan, known by the nickname "Jungle", and his two nephews, Sargis Ghukasyan and Viktor Hovsepyan, were subsequently arrested on charges of infliction of willful medium-gravity damage to health by a group of persons.

Tanya Melkumyan, the victim's widow and his legal successor, does not agree with the public prosecutor's indictment. During the hearing Tuesday afternoon her attorney Tigran Muradyan filed a motion for recusal of prosecutor Yuri Aghayan; he reminded, that at the previous hearing the prosecutor stated there were no contradictions between the two forensic medical examinations and that they only supplemented each other.

“This statement is obviously groundless since according to the first examination Tumanyan's death was directly related to the beating, while the second one showed he died because of a birth defect. The prosecutor's statement proves his subjectivity. It proves that the prosecutor has taken upon himself to defend the accused,” Muradyan said.

Judge Davit Harutyunyan denied the motion of recusal. The judge also rejected the motion filed by co-defendant Viktor Hovsepyan's attorney, Karen Mkrtchyan, for his client's acquittal. At the previous hearing on September 23 the attorney had stated Hovsepyan “was only trying to separate those fighting.” Judge Harutyunyan, however, stated on Tuesday that at this stage it is impossible to make claims about the innocence of one of the accused. 

In an earlier interview the veteran's widow had told Epress.am that the defendants had beaten Vardan Tumanyan right in front of her and her daughter. Tumanyan's relatives claim co-defendant Sargsyan “has spent a lot of money to obtain the results of the second examination;” meanwhile, they are confident about the reliability of the first one.