The trial of the main defendants involved in the attack on the Armenian National Assembly in October 1999 continued today, with testimony presented by the leader of the attackers Nairi Hunanian.
Hunainan recounted the events of the fateful day. Our correspondent reports that his statements included a number of contradictory remarks about some details. He seemed to be oblivious to the fact that certain scenes of the attack and the killing of government and parliament members had been televised.
In his narrative, Hunanian said that the gang had made contingency plans to keep the guard at the main street entrance silent, if he discovered that they were armed. However, the policeman did not notice the weapons concealed under their cloths and they entered the parliament grounds. Once they cleared the main hurdle they walked into the building and after a brief stop for a drink of water, they proceeded towards the main assembly hall.
However at this point events overtook their original plan. According to Hunanian, his brother and uncle were supposed to wait in a nearby lobby as he checked to see if there were any guards outside the assembly hall, and if Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkissian was there or not. Previously, Hunanian has said that they wanted to take everyone hostage and demand the prime minister's resignation. However, his brother suddenly losing his self-control rushed through the doors, and as he stumbled and thought that the prime minister was making a suspicious movement, he shot him. At this point Hunanian joined him, and not sure if there were any armed guards around, and seeing some movement there he started firing at the presidium where he fatally shot Parliament Speaker Karen Demirchian.
Hunanian spoke rapidly during his crucial testimony, prompting the judge to ask him to speak more slowly for court secretaries to be able to take notes.
Our correspondent reports that Hunanian obviously tried to portray their actions less as a pre-meditated killing attempt and more as acts of sudden, uncontrollable reactions. In every instance the terrorist gang leader attempted to present mitigating circumstances.
Hunanian testified that as his original plan fell apart, he tried to contact a number of politicians and political parties to consult with them or ask them to come to parliament "to decide the fate of this nation". He also tried to contact president Robert Kocharian who eventually came and met Hunanian where he agreed to free the hostages and surrender to the police.