The Armenian police believe that six employees of a Yerevan restaurant arrested on assault charges were not the only individuals that brutally beat three military doctors on June 17, a senior police official said on Wednesday.
One of the doctors, Vahe Avetian, died of severe wounds in hospital about two weeks after the incident that sparked public indignation in Armenia. Most of the six suspects in the case worked as security guards at the Harsnakar restaurant owned by Ruben Hayrapetian, an influential businessman close to the Armenian government.
“We have gained evidence to the effect that individuals other than the mentioned six persons also took part in the crime,” the police official overseeing the criminal investigation, Arsen Azarian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“We have carried out many actions to determine their number and identity but have no positive result yet,” he said. “The investigation into unidentified individuals is continuing and we will take more necessary investigative actions to determine their identity.”
Azarian would not say whether the police investigators believe that they also worked for Hayrapetian. The latter resigned as member of parliament representing the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) last month under pressure from civic and opposition groups that hold him responsible for Avetian’s death.
Hundreds of activists have demonstrated in Yerevan in recent weeks to demand that Hayrapetian also be prosecuted. They say that he may have personally ordered his bodyguards to attack the doctors after they apparently argued with restaurant staff.
The controversial tycoon has strongly denied that, while acknowledging his “moral” responsibility for the beatings. The police have said, for their part, that there is no proof of his involvement.
According to Azarian, the police inquiry will continue parallel to the trial of the six arrested men, which is expected to start soon.
Meanwhile, more than 200 people held another candlelight vigil outside Harsnakar late on Tuesday, on the 40th day anniversary of Avetian’s death. They then marched to Hayrapetian’s nearby massive mansion in Yerevan’s Avan district to demand punishment for all individuals responsible for the doctor’s death.