By Karine Kalantarian
A former Armenian security officer charged with plotting to assassinate Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian admitted on Wednesday the existence of such a conspiracy but insisted that he was not its mastermind.
Levon Abrahamian, who is facing trial along with two other men, told a Yerevan court that they indeed sought to kill Sarkisian with a remote-controlled bomb which they hoped to plant outside the Armenian Defense Ministry. Abrahamian said that the plot was hatched by Ara Narimanian, one of the two other defendants who is originally from Nagorno-Karabakh.
Narimanian, according to him, believed that Sarkisian’s death would lead to the release of General Samvel Babayan, his friend and the jailed former commander of the Karabakh army.
Narimanian, however, claimed at the start of the trial last week that Abrahamian himself had planned the alleged assassination bid as he blamed the powerful defense minister for his imprisonment in 1998 on racketeering charges.
Abrahamian, who worked at the time for the Armenian National Security Service in the rank of lieutenant-colonel, was sentenced to eight years in prison and was set free on parole in 2002. He is said to have become friends with Narimanian and the third defendant, Hrant Papikian, in jail.
Prosecutors say that it was Narimanian who tipped off law-enforcement authorities about the planned attempt on Sarkisian’s life. They say they took the information seriously and used him as an undercover agent, secretly videotaping his subsequent conversations with Abrahamian. The recordings are expected to be shown in the court.