Lawyers representing the family of a man who was beaten to death at a Yerevan restaurant in June condemned on Thursday the criminal investigation into the assault that has been mostly completed by the Armenian police.
They claimed that police investigators have deliberately failed to identify and punish all individuals responsible for the death of Vahe Avetian, a military doctor who was attacked at the Harsnakar restaurant along with several friends and colleagues.
A senior police official overseeing the investigation said on Wednesday that a criminal case against six men arrested in connection with the incident is complete and will be sent to the two lawyers for Avetian’s family for review. Under Armenian law, the case must be sent to court after being reviewed by both the lawyers and state prosecutors. The latter can delay the judicial process with petitions to police investigators.
The attorneys, Lusine Hakobian and Tigran Yegorian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that they received a copy of the case late on Wednesday and were given only 36 hours to familiarize themselves with its materials. They claimed that this was done deliberately to prevent them from studying the file in detail and exposing its flaws. They demanded that the police give them one month to scrutinize the criminal charges leveled against the six suspects, most of them restaurant security guards.
“The materials of the case are about 1,000 pages long,” said Hakobian. “That time cannot be considered reasonable even for reading a piece of fiction, which doesn’t require serious analysis and petitions.”
“We were deprived of possibilities of taking any action,” Yegorian complained for his part. He said even a brief look at the case is enough to understand that the police inquiry has been flawed.
Arsen Azarian, a senior official at the police Directorate General of Criminal Investigations, said on Wednesday that the inquiry will continue during and after the upcoming trial. Azarian said the investigators believe that the six jailed suspects were not the only individuals who brutally beat Avetian and two other army doctors. He said they have been unable to identify more suspects.
Yegorian criticized Azarian’s remarks, saying that the police have not done enough to clarify all circumstances of the June 17 incident. “It is wrong to separate a case on unknown individuals that should have been identified but have not been identified during the investigation,” he said.