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Yerevan Court Won’t Reopen Investigation Into Soldier’s Non-Combat Death

A Yerevan court refused on Monday to reopen an investigation into the 2010 death of Armenian conscript Valery Muradyan. The Arabkir and Kanaker-Zeytun district court, presided over by judge Anna Matevosyan, upheld a 2015 decision by Armenia's Investigative Committee and a 2016 decision by the military prosecutor's office who had dismissed the case into Muradyan's hanging death at a Stepanakert military unit, ruling it a suicide. 

The soldier's mother, Nana Muradyan, filed a complaint against the authorities' decision, arguing that her son was murdered and that investigators were deliberately covering up the case.

“These people are not judges, they are minions who follow whatever orders they are given from those in power. There is no justice in this country,” Muradyan announced today after hearing the court's verdict. The aggrieved mother went on to condemn the judge's decision, claiming that judge Matevosyan “has no right” to call herself a mother. “As a woman, at least, she should have been fair. At the previous court hearing, we asked her to approach the issue like a mother would have done, but she told us that she was there as a judge… And she remained one to the last.”

Speaking to Epress.am, Muradyan said that she intended to appeal the ruling to the courts of appeal and cassation; however, the mother added, she had no expectation of a fair decision from Armenian courts.

“[Armenia’s justice system] is a chain; if it breaks, they will all go down… The district court did not open the case because it knew [investigators and prosecutors] would do nothing to discover anything new. I will appeal to the European court [of human rights] because [Armenian authorities] are basically telling us that this is not our country… We have to turn to European authorities in order for them to rein [this government] in.”

At one of the previous court hearings, Muradyan insisted that there were many inconsistencies and suppressed evidence in the case that, she believed, proved her son had been killed; “There were too many bruises on my son's body […], two rope traces on his neck, which suggests that he was killed first and then hanged. His uniform was taken to examination only five months later when it had already decayed… But most importantly, his shoes and the chair he supposedly used to hang himself have gone missing. If there are no shoes and no chair, then it is safe to assume that my son's murderer had in fact been the one to stand on the chair with the purpose of hanging Valery. My son's jacket was also not at the scene; instead there was the jacket of another conscript, Avetik Khachatryan, who has been taken out of the country, and I therefore have suspicions that Khachatryan is the actual killer…”