A senior Armenian military doctor was arrested on Wednesday in connection with the death of a soldier who fell ill and was hospitalized last month.
The 18-year-old conscript, Hayk Khachatrian, died from chickenpox on December 30 three weeks after being taken to a military hospital in Yerevan with an inflamed facial nerve. He was transferred to a civilian hospital specializing in infectious diseases only the day before his death.
The Armenian Defense Ministry’s medical service said that Khachatrian suffered from a rare and dangerous strain of chickenpox which is difficult to treat.
Khachatrian’s parents, who live in a village in the northwestern Shirak province, reject the explanation, saying that army medics and commanders of the soldier’s Yerevan-based unit were too slow to respond to his deteriorating condition. They say the doctors ignored symptoms of the disease that appeared on the soldier’s face shortly after the hospitalization.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry’s Investigative Service announced that Lieutenant-Colonel Minas Mkrtchian, head of the military hospital’s neurological section, has been detained on suspicion of a “negligent attitude towards service.” “The investigation of the criminal case is continuing,” said the statement.
Khachatrian’s death also sparked an uproar from Armenian civic groups and activists concerned about continuing non-combat deaths of soldiers. The Armenian military has promised a tougher crackdown on army crime.