Home / Video / Armenian Investigators and Courts See No Elements of Crime in Soldier’s Death

Armenian Investigators and Courts See No Elements of Crime in Soldier’s Death

On Wednesday, April 20, the Armenian Criminal Court of Appeal, presided over by judge Sergey Chichoyan, dismissed the appeal filed by the legal successors of conscript Grisha Khachatryan who died on June 20, 2014, in one of the military units in Ararat province, against the investigator's decision to close the criminal proceedings, Tatevik Siradeghyan, the representative of Khachatryan's legal successor, told Epress.am, stating her intention to file a cassation appeal with the Court of Cassation. 

Previously, on February 19, 2016, Ararat and Vayots Dzor district court judge Harutyun Petrosyan had upheld investigator L. Yeghoyan's decision to terminate the criminal proceedings on a charge of murder, citing a lack of a corpus delicti.

However, Siradeghyan insists that the preliminary investigation has been ineffective and has failed to establish the circumstances of Khachatryan's death. According to the official version, on the day of his death, Khachatryan, along with conscript Martun Harutyunyan, was on combat duty at the unit's military post. At about 11 am, the investigation service of the Defense Ministry was informed that Khachatryan had sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the head.

Despite the criminal case having been launched on a charge of murder, investigation was also conducted into the soldier's possible suicide and a breach of the rules for handling weapons. The suicide version, however, was soon dismissed by investigators, and a year after the incident, investigator Yeghoyan decided to also close the murder case due to the absence of elements of a crime: investigation had found no traces of gunpowder or blood on soldier Martun Harutyunyan's uniform, and there was not sufficient evidence to indicate third-party involvement in the incident.

Despite agreeing that the likelihood of suicide was clearly refuted, Siradeghyan believes that the murder version should not have been entirely ruled out: “Preliminary investigation did not obtain sufficient evidence to prove that Khachatryan had violated the rules for handling weapons. The investigation also failed to refute the possibility of murder and to establish the absence of a corpus delicti; therefore, the criminal proceedings couldn't have been closed. We consider the ruling of the first instance court illegal and believe that it has to be overturned.”

Recall, 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. 

Later, the Ministry of Defense declared that a criminal case was launched under RA Criminal Code Article 104 Section 1 (murder). Speaking to Epress.am, military expert Ruben Martirosyan, who was present at the soldier's autopsy on June 21, claimed that the incident was a “typical murder.” The presence of two wounds, according to the expert, ruled out the version of suicide, while the direction of the wounds indicated that Khachatryan could not have been killed by the enemy nor could he have died as a result of careless handling of weapons.