By Karine Kalantarian
Armenia’s longtime chief military prosecutor, Gagik Jahangirian, was relieved of his duties and appointed to another, less important position by President Robert Kocharian on Wednesday.
A statement by the presidential press service gave no reasons for Kocharian’s decision to effectively demote the man who had nearly implicated him in the October 1999 massacre in the Armenian parliament. Citing a separate presidential decree, it said Jahangirian will now take over the duties performed until now by his replacement, Deputy Prosecutor-General Armen Khachaturian.
Khachaturian was in charge of promoting and sanctioning prosecutors, overseeing their court actions and managing the finances of the Office of Prosecutor-General. Officials at the law-enforcement agency claimed that Jahangirian’s new post does not constitute a demotion. But lawyers familiar with Armenia’s law-enforcement system think otherwise.
Jahangirian declined to comment on the job swap. Sources close to him told RFE/RL that he is not happy with it.
Jahangirian, who has served as chief military prosecutor for nearly nine years, was a key player in the government infighting that followed the October 1999 assassinations of Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, parliament speaker Karen Demirchian and six other officials. As head of a criminal investigation into the still mysterious terrorist attack, Jahangirian effectively sided with a government faction that suspected Kocharian of masterminding the killings.
Kocharian’s then chief of staff, Aleksan Harutiunian, was among several individuals arrested on charges of helping five gunmen seize the parliament building and spray it with bullets. They were all set free by the time Kocharian prevailed in the power struggle in May 2000.
Jahangirian offered to resign at the time in protest against Kocharian’s decision to ban him from briefing the Armenian parliament on his inquiry. His resignation was not accepted by Kocharian. Still, he was subsequently barred from the leading official search for possible masterminds of the parliament shootings.
(Photolur photo: Gagik Jahangirian.)