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No Armenian Defense Official Held Responsible for Negligence During 2016 Nagorno-Karabakh Clashes

Casualties during the escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in April 2016 were not only caused directly by warfare but also by low-quality fuel, equipment malfunctions, and insufficient ammunition in the Armenian army, Artur Sakunts, head of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor office (HCAV), said at a press conference on Tuesday. Recall, a study conducted by HCAV last year indicated that some of the Armenian soldiers deaths might have been prevented if it weren’t for a shortage of ammunition, malfunctioning weapons and equipment.

After the publication of the study report, the Vanadzor-based human rights organization filed a crime report to the General Prosecutor’s office based on its findings; the office, however, has left the report unresponded without either considering it or dismissing it for lack of legitimate justifications. Nonetheless, Sakunts said, HCAV does not intend to remove the matter from the public agenda and will resubmit the appeal to the General Prosecutor’s office, the Defense Ministry, various National Assembly committees, and the office of the Human Rights Ombudsman.

“We have filed an appeal again because we have to see whether they have actually investigated anything. By covering up these crimes the authorities are failing to fulfill their obligation to disclose and punish the violations of the right of people to life. We should center our attention not only on the March 1 [2008 post-election clashes] and October 27 [1999 Armenian parliament shooting] events but also the topic of military operations, because it showed the vulnerability [of the Armenian armed forces], the grave consequences of the corruption and the low quality management in the field of defense. People were killed, and the compensation for their deaths should not just be paid out in medals; there should be a criminal investigation. No official has been held responsible for misconduct during the April events,” Sakunts said.