By Hrach Melkumian
About a hundred opposition activists held a silent vigil on Tuesday outside a popular Yerevan café where President Robert Kocharian’s bodyguards reportedly beat to death a man one year ago.
The organizer of the protest, the Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party, used the first anniversary of Poghos Poghosian’s violent to renew opposition calls for a regime change in Armenia.
“This action is directed against arbitrary practices, against indifference and against the moral degradation of those intellectuals who were present at the Aragast café [on September 24, 2001] but did nothing to establish justice,” said a senior Hanrapetutyun member, Artak Zeynalian.
Only one of Kocharian’s bodyguards, Aghamal Harutiunian, has been prosecuted for the crime. A Yerevan court gave Harutiunian a one-year suspended jail sentence in February, endorsing prosecutors’ claims that he accidentally killed Poghosian in a one-on-one fistfight.
The severely injured body of Poghosian, an ethnic Armenian from Georgia, was found dead in the restroom of Aragast shortly after Kocharian left it with his entourage. According to some eyewitnesses accounts, Poghosian was attacked and beaten up by several men, who looked like security agents, after greeting the president in a way he found too familiar.
The victim’s family and human rights groups have condemned the official inquiry into the café murder was a gross cover-up, saying that most of its perpetrators have not been brought to justice.