The Armenian police faced on Monday more torture allegations stemming from a criminal investigation that led to the suspicious death in police custody of a resident of Charentsavan, a small town about 40 kilometers north of Yerevan.
Relatives of David Gyulumian, another local resident, said that he too was ill-treated by police officers to confess to a theft committed there early last month.
Gyulumian, Vahan Khalafian and two other men were arrested on April 13 on suspicion of involvement in the crime. Khalafian, 24, died in still unclear circumstances several hours later. The Armenian police acknowledged on Friday that he was beaten up before allegedly committing suicide.
Gyulumian’s mother Armik Gharibian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the 35-year-old claimed to have been forced to admit his guilt under duress when she visited him in Yerevan’s Nubarashen prison several days after the arrest.
According to his aunt, Alvard Gyulumian, he said: “I could either die like Vahan or sign it, there was no other option.”
Both women denied Gyulumian’s involvement in the crime. They also alleged that the local police had for years forced him to operate as a police informer through threats and blackmail.
Law-enforcement authorities effectively denied the torture claims, however. Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS), which is conducting an inquiry into Khalafian’s death, told RFE/RL that Gyulumian assured SIS investigators later in April that “nobody subjected him to torture.”
The law-enforcement body also provided a copy of the results of a medical examination of Gyulumian conducted by forensic experts shortly after Khalafian’s death. The document says that they found “no objective signs of bodily injuries” that might have been inflicted on the man.