By Karine Kalantarian and Ruzanna Khachatrian
Law-enforcement authorities in Yerevan refuted on Wednesday reports that an Armenian national arrested in Russia recently was involved in the October 1999 terrorist attack on Armenia’s parliament.
The man, identified as Suren Petrosian, was arrested in Saint Petersburg two months ago for allegedly violating Russian immigration rules. AFP news agency quoted unnamed police officials in Russia’s second largest city as saying that the 47-year-old is the subject of an international arrest warrant and will be extradited to Armenia later this week. They claimed that Petrosian is wanted by the Armenian authorities in connection with their continuing probe of the parliament massacre.
However, a high-ranking prosecutor in Yerevan, Andranik Mirzoyan, categorically denied any link between the suspect and the 1999 shootings that left eight senior government officials, including Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and parliament speaker Karen Demirchian, dead. Speaking to RFE/RL, Mirzoyan insisted that none of the individuals charged with complicity in the shock killings is currently on the run.
Mirzoyan said the Armenian police have been hunting for Petrosian since 1994 for a string of other “serious crimes” allegedly committed by him in Yerevan. A spokesman for the police, Armen Charents, confirmed the information, revealing that the suspect has been sought for large-scale robbery.
The main perpetrators of the crime, five jailed gunmen led by former journalist Nairi Hunanian, have been on trial for more than two years. The long-running trial resumed on June 30 after a nearly six-month break which relatives of the parliament attack victims believe was politically motivated. The authorities, however, attribute the delay to the illness of the presiding judge and one of the defendants.