By Karine Kalantarian
Transport and Communications Minister Andranik Manukian, who miraculously survived the October 1999 massacre in the Armenian parliament, demanded on Wednesday that its five jailed perpetrators be brutally and publicly executed.
“They must be subjected to a brutal punishment, they must be hanged on [Yerevan’s] Freedom Square,” Manukian screamed at the ongoing trial of former journalist Nairi Hunanian and his four henchmen. “And every day we must cut half a kilo of their flesh so that they realize what brutality is.”
The minister, who had nearly lost his life in the attack, was called to testify as a witness at the long-running trial. But Manukian’s court testimony degenerated into an outburst of fury as he recollected details of the bloodbath that left Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, parliament speaker Karen Demirchian and six other officials dead.
Manukian, who was a rank-and-file parliamentarian at the time, was himself heavily wounded in the head and face when Hunanian and two other gunmen sprayed the parliament hall with bullets. He spent several days in coma, but recovered after undergoing lengthy medical treatment in Armenia and abroad. His scarred face is a poignant reminder of the tragedy which is still reverberating on the Armenian political scene.
Manukian’s calls for the execution of the parliament gunmen are backed by the current parliament majority, a position condemned by the Council of Europe. The organization warned recently that Armenia could face serious sanctions if it fails to abolish the death penalty by next June.