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Investigation into Armenian Soldier’s Non-Military Death to Be Reopened, Appeals Court Rules

Armenia’s Appeals Court sided with a lower court on Thursday, May 5, in overturning prosecution’s and investigation’s decision to dismiss the criminal case into the non-military death of Armenian army conscript Tigran Ohanjanyan. The decision had been challenged in January, 2016, by the conscript’s father, Suren Ohanjanyan, at the Arabkir and Kanaker-Zeytun district court whose favorable ruling was subsequently challenged at the appellate court by the Armenian prosecutor’s office. 

The decision by presiding judge Sevak Hambardzumyan was met with applause and named “a long-awaited fair ruling” by the parents of soldiers who died in the army in non-combat conditions. Speaking to Epress.am after the hearing, Ohanjanyan’s mother, Gohar Sargsyan, said that they were “somehow encouraged” by the judge’s decision.

“Hope dies last, and I hope that we’ll reach a fair resolution. I don’t care how long it takes, I’ll achieve justice. I will have those guilty punished. Generals, commanders – whoever they are. General Haykaz Baghmanyan is behind [my son’s] murder. My child was killed by him and his bodyguards,” Sargsyan said.

Prosecutor Aram Khachatryan and investigator Arsen Movsisyan, on the other hand, believe that the district court’s decision “violated the principles of fair competition.”

“The judge only heard the plaintiff’s side of the story and did not allow us to give clarifications. According to the [lower court’s] decision, an examination had been performed incompletely, but it does not specify which one it is. We’ve carried out every possible examination, have questioned 40 witnesses,” the prosecutor told the Appeals Court judge yesterday.

The law enforcement official’s words caused discontent among those present in the courtroom. Gohar Sargsyan, namely, countered that the defendants hadn’t been heard [by the lower-court judge] because they “didn’t have anything to say.”