Three leading political groups represented in the Armenian parliament demanded on Tuesday an official inquiry into their suspicion that Nairi Hunanian and other members of the gang that seized the assembly in 1999 receive "illicit legal counseling" in their ongoing trial.
The People's (HZhK) and Communist parties and the parliamentary group of the Yerkrapah Union of Nagorno-Karabakh war veterans said in a joint statement that the parliament should form an ad hoc commission to investigate "possible illegalities" committed by security agencies guarding the jailed gunmen.
They also accused unnamed Armenian politicians of attempting to play down the seriousness of the crime and effectively justify the murder of Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, parliament speaker Karen Demirchian and six other officials. "The killers of real heroes are portrayed as Robin Hoods," the statement said. None of the signatories would elaborate on the allegation.
The statement reflects Yerkrapah's and the HZhK's growing frustration with the course of the trial and belief that Hunanian is receiving secret orders to drag out court proceedings by giving lengthy testimony. The two influential organizations, founded by Sarkisian and Demirchian respectively, have shrugged off Hunanian's insistence that the armed gang acted on its own and did not have powerful sponsors.
Both the HZhK and Yerkrapah still formally compose the Miasnutyun (Unity) bloc together with Prime Minister Andranik Markarian's Republican Party (HHK). The HHK's refusal to sign the statement implicitly accusing the authorities of withholding the truth about the parliament shootings came as another indication of increasing tensions inside the once powerful alliance.
Tigran Torosian, a senior Republican and the deputy speaker of the parliament, said the statement was inappropriate for political groups making up a governing bloc. "When a particular demand is being imposed rather than discussed the Republican Party never accepts it," Torosian told reporters. Miasnutyun can not "demand anything from itself," he added.