By Karine Kalantarian
A bodyguard of President Robert Kocharian told a Yerevan court Thursday that Aghamal Harutiunian, his colleague currently standing trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter, was himself attacked by the man found dead in a city café last September.
In a testimony sharply contrasting with some witness accounts, bodyguard Gurgen Arsenian claimed that the late Poghos Poghosian not only publicly shouted abuse at Kocharian but also behaved in a threatening manner.
He said Poghosian, a 43-year-old resident of Georgia’s Armenian-populated Ninotsminda region, led Harutiunian into the café restroom after being prevented from approaching the president as the latter left the popular nightspot. He said none of the other security guards followed them.
According to Arsenian, Harutiunian told his colleagues the next day that he was hit in the face inside the toilet and immediately left the place.
State prosecutors say that Poghosian died accidentally in a fistfight with Harutiunian shortly after making “obscene remarks” about the head of state. They have characterized the tragic incident as a “negligent murder,” a crime that can lead to up to three years’ imprisonment in Armenia.
However, two eyewitnesses that shared a table with Poghosian on the night from September 24 to 25 have testified that their companion was attacked by several men. One of the witnesses, Stepan Nalbandian, says he saw Poghosian kicked and punched inside the toilet moments before his death.
None of the witnesses that have taken the stand in the trial so far has stated that Harutiunian was among the attackers.