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Jailed Police General Denies Murder Cover-Up


Armenia -- Colonel Hovannes Tamamian, chief of the Armenian police's Directorate General of Criminal Investigations, at a news conference on November 20, 2009.

Armenia -- Colonel Hovannes Tamamian, chief of the Armenian police's Directorate General of Criminal Investigations, at a news conference on November 20, 2009.

Hovannes Tamamian, a controversial Armenian police general who was arrested last year, said through his lawyer on Wednesday that he did not try to cover up a murder for personal gain.

Tamamian was detained and sacked as head of the Directorate General of Criminal Investigations at the national police service last March on charges of abuse of power that was committed for “mercantile motives” and led to “severe consequences.” The accusations carry between two and six years in prison.

The case mainly stems from a murder committed in Yerevan in 2010. State prosecutors said in March that police investigators overseen by Tamamian deliberately did not prosecute the murder perpetrator and charged another individual instead. They also alleged a similar cover-up of a murder attempt in another Armenian city, Gavar.

Tamamian’s arrest came a week after President Serzh Sarkisian publicly expressed outrage at the police actions. He labeled Tamamian as an “immoral” person who has disgraced the Armenian police.

A spokeswoman for Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Wednesday that the prosecutors’ Special Investigative Service (SIS) has finished the pre-trial inquiry and will send the case to court soon.

Tamamian’s lawyer, Vaghinak Gevorgian, said his client will not even bother to read a copy of the SIS indictment provided to him because considers the accusations baseless. “Nobody knew [at the beginning] who the murder perpetrator is,” Gevorgian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Tamamian had for years been one of Armenia’s most controversial law-enforcement officials. He is thought to have played a major role in police crackdowns on the opposition that were ordered by former President Robert Kocharian in 2004 and 2008.
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