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Defense Lawyers in Armenian Cadet Murder Case Do Not Trust Forensic Evidence

At a court hearing on Thursday into the murder of Yerevan Vazgen Sargsyan Military Institute cadet Haykaz Barseghyan, presiding judge Davit Harutyunyan declared that the accused – fellow cadets Movses Azaryan, Gnel Tevosyan, Vache Sahakyan and Norik Sahakyan – have been characterized by the commanders of the military institute as “caring, friendly, and kind” people. 

The results of forensic medical and forensic psychiatric examinations, also presented to the court on February 11, showed that the person who wrote the suicide note on behalf of Haykaz Barseghyan “was not in a suicidal state.” Experts found that the entire note had been written by the same person, and no signs of intentional handwriting changes were detected. However, forensic handwriting analysis failed to establish the author of the note since, as stated by experts, lack of graphic materials “makes it impossible to come to a definitive conclusion.”

According to the forensic medical examination of Barseghyan's corpse, the cause of death has been ruled as asphyxia by compression of the neck with a blunt object. Experts also found a number of injuries to the cadet's mouth and cheeks which were incurred within 30 to 90 minutes of the death. 

The defendants' attorneys, however, announced that the conclusion of the medical examiner could not be considered reliable because of the “multiple flaws” therein contained. Hovik Arsenyan, Norik Sahakyan's lawyer, stated that it was unclear why experts thought the death was caused by compression of the next. “The medical expert just randomly came up with the word. If there bruising due to compression, why only on the right side of the neck?” the lawyer said.

The court granted the lawyers' motion to question the forensic medical expert at the next court hearing. The legal team also did not rule out the possibility of conducting a follow-up forensic examination of the corpse.

Recall, cadet Haykaz Barseghyan's body was found on January 29, 2015, hanging from a chin-up bar in the sports ground of the Vazgen Sargsyan Institute. Four cadets of the same military institute, Vache Sahakyan, Movses Azaryan, Gnel Tevosyan, and Norik Sahakyan, have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder.