19-year-old Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army conscript Mikayel Zakaryan, who has been charged with shooting and killing fellow soldier Hovhannes Harutyunyan on March 17, denies the murder was intentional. Erik Beglaryan, a lawyer for Zakaryan, told Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper that the defendant and the victim “were close friends” and Zakaryan “had no motive whatsoever” to kill Harutyunyan.
“Do they kill while laughing? Is that even possible? [The soldiers] were laughing and joking and playfully pulling the [loaded] weapon from each other's hands when it accidentally fired,” Beglaryan said, citing Zakaryan's testimony.
The lawyer said he has motioned to the prosecutor to change the defendant's murder charges envisaging up to life of imprisonment to violation of rules for safe firearm handling (3-7 years in jail).