By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Prosecutors confirmed on Friday that they have arrested a nephew of the mayor of the northern Armenian city of Vanadzor but said the move has no connection with the recent murder of a top regional prosecutor.
A spokeswoman for the Prosecutor-General’s Office told RFE/RL that Arman Darpinian, 24, was placed under arrested early in the morning. Sona Truzian said he is suspected of illegally possessing weapons ammunition. She could not give further details, saying only that the arrest did not stem from the ongoing criminal investigation into the August 26 shooting of Albert Ghazarian, the chief prosecutor of the northern Lori region.
Ghazarian was gunned down outside his house in Vanadzor, the regional capital, in still uncertain circumstances.
Prosecutor-General Aghvan told RFE/RL on Tuesday that nobody has been detained in connection with the killing. He refused to say if law-enforcement authorities are investigating a possible link between the killing and Ghazarian’s strained relationship with Vanadzor Mayor Samvel Darpinian and Henrik Kochinian, the recently fired Lori governor.
Darpinian and Kochinian are among local government officials figuring in a embezzlement case brought by the Lori prosecutor’s office last June. They are suspected of a large-scale theft of equipment from a local sewage works which allegedly occurred during the 1990s.
According to Arman Darpinian’s mother Narine, the young man was detained by police in Yerevan and taken to Vanadzor on Thursday. She said several bullets were found in his car three hours after it was impounded by the Yerevan police. “I can’t say what law-enforcement bodies could have done during those three hours,” Narine Darpinian told RFE/RL, suggesting that the incriminating evidence was planted by police officers.
She also claimed that the case brought against her son is part of efforts to “politically neutralize” the Vanadzor mayor.
The mayor is a member of the governing Republican Party of Armenia.