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Construction Company Driver Suspected of Assaulting Armenian Journalist

Armenia’s law enforcement authorities insist that the assault on Lori TV editor-in-chief Narine Avetisyan in late September was carried out only by the driver of the  Shinplus construction company; the police further claim that the driver was the one to erase the footage shot by the reporter with her mobile phone.

“I received a phone call and was informed that asphalt paving works were being conducted under heavy rain on a bridge near the St. Mary Church in Vanadzor. I had only managed to take a few photos when I was brutally attacked by Shinplus construction company head Tigran Nazaryan,” the reporter had written on her Facebook page following the incident. Nazaryan and several of his employees, she’d added, had thrown her to the ground, twisted her arms and taken away her cell phone to erase the video recordings.

Avetisyan’s lawyer Artur Sakunts, the head of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly Vanadzor Office, told Lori TV on October 9 he was surprised that the driver was thus far the only suspect in the case. “We’re unable to understand this because Narine never used the word ‘driver,’ even when identifying the attackers. We expect at least 4-5 people to be charged; we hope that the Shinplus head is charged with several articles – incitement, organization – and the rest are held accountable as accomplices,” Sakunts said.

The violence against Avetisyan has been condemned by the Armenian Human Rights Obudsman, a number of media organizaions, and the Council od Europe. Armenia’s General Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigative Committee have pledged to closly and fairly monitor the investigation into the incident. Lori governor Artur Nalbandyan and Vanadzor mayor Mamikon Aslanyan have refused to give an assessment to the incident, saying that it was the responsibility of law enforcement authorities to find out what had actually happened.