By Anna Saghabalian
Chief Military Prosecutor Gagik Jahangirian on Thursday publicly clashed with members of an Armenian presidential commission as he sought to disprove their allegations that his agency is responsible for human rights abuses in the military.
The commission on human rights comprising lawyers, politicians and representatives of civic organizations last week called for Jahangirian’s dismissal, linking him to the alleged mistreatment of servicemen in military police custody and army units. The office of prosecutor-general has ordered an inquiry into the charges, in a major embarrassment to the military prosecutor already accused of botching the criminal investigation into the 1999 parliament shootings.
Speaking at a commission meeting in the presidential residence, Jahangirian sharply denied any involvement in instances of violence cited by the body. He said delinquent soldiers could have only been beaten up in their military units, adding that criminal proceedings are underway against eight officers over one such incident.
Jahangirian further denied claims by lawyer Ruben Rshtuni that military prosecutors had “extorted a big sum” from a defense ministry employee in return for closing a criminal case against him. He said the official in fact paid back the amount of money he had embezzled from the state.
But Rshtuni and some other commission members were unconvinced by the prosecutor’s arguments, engaging bitter exchanges with Jahangirian and military police chief Vladimir Gasparian who also attended the meeting. Commission chairman Paruyr Hayrikian had to intervene at several points to ease the tension.