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Atom Markarian
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian Friday spoke out strongly against the launch of a parliamentary inquiry into the allegations that Nairi Hunanian and other key defendants in the parliament shootings trial receive illegal assistance to make their case in court.



Two influential political groups represented in the National Assembly, the People's Party (HZhK) and the Yerkrapah Union, claimed in a joint statement earlier this week that Hunanian may be receiving "illicit legal counseling" from governing circles that are not interested in uncovering the truth about the October 1999 assassination of eight senior officials. The HZhK is a nominal member of the governing coalition led by Markarian's Republican Party (HHK) and was the main driving force behind the move, which amounted to the expression of mistrust in the authorities' ability to handle the politically sensitive case.

But Markarian termed the demand "absurd" and "childish," in another indication of serious differences between his party and the HZhK, which together form the majority Miasnutyun bloc. "There is no logic in expressing concerns in that way and creating a special parliamentary commission over those concerns," Markarian told a news conference in his official residence.

The HZhK-Yerkrapah statement suggested that Hunanian is being secretly instructed to drag out the court proceedings and mislead the public. It said the ad hoc parliamentary commission must investigate security agencies responsible for guarding Hunanian and four other jailed gunmen.

The premier, however, ruled out the possibility that unauthorized persons have had access to the defendants. "I myself was in the national security ministry jail many years ago, and I know very well how inmates can be influenced," he said.

The government's and Republicans' strong opposition to the idea of a parliamentary inquiry puts a big question mark over the success of HZhK efforts to win sufficient support for the initiative.
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