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Armenian Conscript’s Murder ‘Hushed Up’ to Allegedly Protect Relative of Top Official

Harutyun Hambaryan, a 20-year-old conscript of the Nagorno-Karabakh defense army, was killed on May 8, 2015, at an NKR army unit; however, Armenia's law enforcement authorities conducted a “false preliminary investigation,” pushing forward a suicide theory, Ruben Martirosyan, a military expert working with Peace Dialogue NGO and a representative of Hambaryan's legal successor, said in conversation with Epress.am. He insisted that investigator Nver Avetisyan and prosecutor Karen Aghabekyan, along with the heads of their corresponding agencies – Investigative Committee head Aghvan Hovsepyan and General Prosecutor Gevorg Kostanyan – are criminals who “are doing their best to indemnify the true murderers.”

Martirosyan believes it's peculiar that there are no suspects – people who could have possibly incited Hambaryan to suicide – in the criminal case initiated into the conscript's death. According to case materials, the soldier committed suicide for no apparent reason: he did not have any sort of family, personal or service problems, nor did he suffer from mental illness.

The expert, however, is convinced that Hambaryan was killed by a group of people, but his murder was hushed up for the sake of “several people.” Martirosyan alleged that fellow serviceman Sasun Hakobyan, a relative of then-commander of the NKR defense army Movses Hakobyan, could have been among the killers.

The absence of identifiable fingerprints on the weapon Hambaryan allegedly used to kill himself, Martirosyan noted, also proves the murder theory; “To put it bluntly, the fingerprints were manually and intentionally destroyed. It could have been done by Smbat Hayrapetyan (a soldier who, according to his testimony, remained by Hambaryan's body for 20 minutes after his death) or by the investigator. If the investigator does not wish to carry out an investigation to find out who destroyed the fingerprints, then it was him all along.”

Speaking about Sasun Hakobyan's alleged role in Hambaryan's death, the expert argued that he could have organized and possibly taken part in the murder. According to eyewitness testimony, Hambaryan had brawled with Hakobyan 20 days prior to his death, which, Martirosyan believes, could be of crucial importance for the case.

Subsequently, however, the witness – a senior lieutenant – changed his testimony to claim that Hambaryan had not actually brawled with Hakobyan but with an “entirely different person.” 

“It is apparent the witness was pressured into changing his story. But that's not all: the investigation later went so far as to claim that neither Habobyan nor Hambaryan had been among those fighting. Nevertheless, Hakobyan's factor is very important since we also know that before the incident Hambaryan had called Hakobyan and they had an argument over the phone. Now, we can put forward a pretty reasonable theory – Sasun Hakobyan, along with his bodyguards, came to Hambaryan's duty post and killed the conscript with the help of our so-called witness Smbat Hayrapetyan․ There were at least 4-5 of them,” Martirosyan said.

The case, the expert added, was hastily sent to court, which did not allow the aggrieved party to file any motions in connection with its conduct within the envisaged time period of 1 month. The party challenged this violation with the Investigative Committee, and Martirosyan was subsequently informed by the law enforcement agency that administrative proceedings were initiated based on the complaint. 

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