By Karine Kalantarian
Prominent Armenian lawyers representing the family of a U.S. citizen mysteriously stabbed to death in Yerevan about two years ago have demanded a renewed criminal investigation into the murder, alleging a high-level police cover-up.
Marine and Tigran Janoyans insist that Armenian law-enforcement authorities have badly mistreated innocent people while deliberately ignoring key facts connected to the violent death of Joshua Haglund.
Haglund, who taught English at the Yerevan University of Foreign Languages as part of an exchange program, bled to death outside his apartment building in the city center late on May 17, 2004. The 33-year-old was apparently attacked inside his apartment before leaving it and collapsing in the courtyard.
Police and prosecutors launched an investigation but never charged anyone. The inquiry was formally “suspended” in October 2004 for lack of evidence. The investigators initially sought to present the killing as a crime of homosexual passion, arresting and briefly jailing several of Haglund’s local gay acquaintances.
The Janoyans dismiss this theory and claim that all of the detainees were subjected to “torture, intimidation and psychological pressure” before being set free and leaving Armenia. “This unlawfulness has significantly hampered the case investigation by strangling information, warning many individuals to stay away from the case and not to provide information, and generating an environment of fear around the case,” they said in a written complaint lodged to the prosecutor’s office in Yerevan this week.
“All avenues of conducting an objective investigation were thus closed,” Marine Janoyan told RFE/RL on Thursday. “The police deserve most of the blame for that.”
Janoyan claimed that Haglund was most probably murdered by powerful friends and relatives of some of his female students who were furious with his refusal to give them privileged treatment. “Joshua told friends that there are people in the university who do not want to study but demand high grades, who behave in a very impudent fashion,” she said. “He also said that he was attacked while walking his dog in Yerevan in March 2004. This information was included in the criminal case.”
“We believe that a thorough investigation must be conducted in that direction,” she added. “I am convinced that our police has operational information which it does not want to release or simply does not want to solve the case.”
Janoyan went on to allege that the probe of the first and so far the only reported killing of an American citizen in Armenia led nowhere because its presumed perpetrators are affiliated with powerful “military sources.” She refused to name names, however.
The prosecutor’s office of Yerevan, meanwhile, declined to comment on the allegations. One of the prosecutors dealing with the case, Vartan Harutiunian, only told RFE/RL that he and his colleagues are currently taking “active investigative measures.” He refused to give any details.