By Karine Kalantarian
The trial of a group of men accused of the December 2002 murder of Public TV executive Tigran Naghdalian ended today in Yerevan's Nork-Marash district court. The judge sentenced Armen Sarkisian, the brother of slain Armenian Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, to 15 years in prison.
After a three and a half month hearing, judge Saribek Aramian handed down the verdict in accordance with the sentence demanded by the prosecutors on October 5. Armen Sarkisian, whose surviving brother Aram Sarkisian is a leading opposition parliament deputy, was found guilty of masterminding Naghdalian's murder. Also sentenced to 15 years in prison was John Harutiunian, who is accused of personally killing Naghdalian.
Other defendants who assisted in arranging the killing received prison terms ranging from seven to 12 years. But not only the defendants, but also the relatives of Tigran Naghdalian were unhappy with the court's ruling. Karine Naghdalian, the slain executive's sister, told RFE/RL that she is not satisfied with the verdict, although it was not unexpected for her. The relatives of the victim said that they are particularly unhappy with the sentence handed down to the organizer of the murder. "He should have been given a life sentence," said Karine Naghdalian.
One of the defendants in the case loudly expressed his disappointment with the ruling, saying that he took the whole responsibility, but nothing came out of that. "Nothing worked," said John Harutiunian. Another defendant, Felix Arustamian, who refused to kill Naghdalian, said that he shouldn't have been so hesitant. "I didn't want to kill the guy but I was given 10 years," he said.
Robert Grigorian, who defended Armen Sarkisian during the trial, also criticized the ruling, saying that the court ignored many important pieces of circumstantial evidence. He said that his defendant will appeal the sentence.