By Karine Kalantarian
Armenian prosecutors demanded on Friday seven years in jail for a former security officer accused of plotting to assassinate Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian.
They said the man, Levon Abrahamian, hatched the alleged conspiracy because he held Sarkisian responsible for his imprisonment in 1998 on racketeering charges.
Abrahamian was convicted of kidnapping an Iranian citizen of Armenian descent and demanding a ransom for his release. The National Security Service, the former Armenian branch of the Soviet-era KGB secret police where the suspect used to work, was headed by Sarkisian at the time.
Abrahamian, who was released from prison in 2002 on a general amnesty, was arrested last September and has since been held in detention. His trial began last month and is now drawing to a close.
The prosecution claims that Abrahamian hoped to carry out the killing with the help of Ara Narimanian, a former army officer whom befriended in jail. It says the alleged plot was foiled after Narimanian tipped off law-enforcement authorities.
Narimanian told investigators that Sarkisian was due to be killed in a bomb attack outside the Armenian Defense Ministry building. He is facing no criminal charges and is attending the trial as a witness.
Abrahamian, for his part, insists that the idea to eliminate the powerful defense minister was Narimanian’s. The suspect said in his court testimony last month that the latter blamed Sarkisian for the 2000 controversial imprisonment of General Samvel Babayan, of whom he had been a close associate.
Abrahamian’s attorney, Marina Janoyan, says the case against her client is not backed up with compelling evidence as it is based only on Narimanian’s testimony. She has also urged the court to ignore the audio and video recordings of several meetings between the two men, saying that they were done illegally.