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Prosecutor Evades Answering Important Question on March 1 Events

At the Friday hearings in Armenia’s National Assembly on the deadly post-election clashes of March 1-2, 2008, Karen Bisharyan, deputy chief of the department for especially important cases at the Armenian Prosecutor General’s Office, left a number of questions posed by opposition Armenian National Congress lawmaker Arakel Semirjyan unanswered. The prosecutor insisted that he needed to ensure that the secrecy of the ongoing investigation is guaranteed. Below is an extract of the exchange:

Arakel Semirjyan – Is there any evidence to suggest that any of the demonstrators had firearms? Three hundred people were arrested. Did any of them have a weapon?

Karen Bisharyan – The question is irrelevant to the agenda. One person used a rifle; there is an enacted judicial act on this. As for the proof of the use of firearms, the investigation is still ongoing. By the way, in order to prevent questions that may concern the investigation data, I have to say that this is an unprecedented phenomenon when cases which are still at the stage of preliminary investigation become the subject of discussion in the National Assembly. Therefore, I will refrain from revealing some data.

A.S. – What about the 10 victims? Was any of them armed?

K.B. – I will consider this preliminary investigation data and refrain from an answer.

A.S. -Five thousand people testified. Did none of them give an important testimony regarding the murders? There were 500 wounded. If the victims can’t testify, the wounded surely can. Did any of the wounded report that they were injured by a demonstrator? Or did they all say that the police attacked them?

K.B. – You emphasize that we interrogated 5 000 witnesses and ask whether we had no issues with them not giving important enough testimony. Of course we had issues with that, but it doesn’t mean that we should give up on the investigation or stop looking for new eyewitnesses.

A.S. – Were the parents of any of the March 1 victims intimidated?

K.B. – There is no factual evidence of that.

A.S. – We know that there were snipers; the first thing they should have done was to isolate those armed. None of the victims had weapons. A question to you then: what were these snipers doing?

The prosecutor left the question unanswered.