By Karine Kalantarian
Armenia’s chief military prosecutor, Gagik Jahangirian, delivered on Wednesday an angry rebuttal to the renewed allegations by a former suspect in the 1999 parliament shootings investigation that he had been tortured in custody.
Harutiun Harutiunian, a deputy director of Armenian state television arrested in February 2000 on charges of involvement in the parliament attack, told a parliamentary commission on Monday that he has lodged a complaint with Prosecutor-General Aram Tamazian. Harutiunian claimed that investigators led by Jahangirian used force to extract false testimony implicating the television head, Tigran Naghdalian, in planning the bloody raid.
A figure close to President Robert Kocharian, Naghdalian knew personally Nairi Hunanian, the leader of the armed group that burst into the National Assembly on October 27, 1999 and killed eight senior officials. The military prosecutors investigators leading the probe of the attack are believed to have been close to filing criminal charges against Naghdalian in early 2000.
Speaking to journalists in his office, Jahangirian reiterated his insistence that none of the persons arrested in connection with the probe was subjected to violence while in detention. “These torture bubbles concerning the military prosecutors always end up bursting,” he said.
“If Harutiun Harutiunian had indeed been beaten up he should have complained to the prosecutor-general at that time, not now,” Jahangirian argued.
Harutiunian and several other suspects were released from jail by the court in May 2000 on the grounds that the charges against them have not been substantiated with evidence. The investigators eventually dropped the accusations.
All of the former suspects claim to have been mistreated by Jahangirian’s men. Harutiunian repeated the allegation at hearings organized by a special parliamentary commission overseeing the authorities’ handling of the politically sensitive inquiry.
Jahangirian was visibly irritated with the commission’s eight-month work, accusing its members of using the case for their political goals. “It seems to me that some deputies have already launched their pre-election campaigns,” he said without giving any names.