Law-enforcement bodies have still not solved the recent killing of a village mayor affiliated with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) not least because eyewitnesses are too scared to come forward, a leader of the opposition party said on Friday.
Hrach Muradian, who governed Proshian village just outside Yerevan for almost eight years, was shot dead outside his office on April 2. A local resident was arrested in the following days on charges of carrying out the killing which Dashnaktsutyun considers politically motivated. The 31-year-old man, Arayik Petrosian, denies the charges.
Aghvan Vartanian, Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary leader, claimed that the Armenian police have yet to identify “the real authors” of the high-profile crime. “We don’t want imprisonment of innocent persons,” he said.
Vartanian complained that although the police promised to pay $5,000 to anyone who would give valuable information about the murder and guarantee their security Proshian residents are scared of cooperating with investigators.
Melania Arustamian, a lawyer representing Muradian’s family, likewise spoke of an atmosphere of fear in the big village. “If people witnessed [the killing] but do not admit that they saw it, that is conditioned by fear,” she told a joint news conference with Vartanian. “After all, the guy was killed in the village center in broad daylight.”
Dashnaktsutyun alleged political motives behind the crime immediately after Muradian was gunned down. They said that the Proshian mayor was at loggerheads with local activists of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and other government loyalists throughout his tenure. He received threats from unknown individuals and faced frequent financial audits by other higher-level authorities, they said.
According to Arustamian, Muradian’s local rivals tried to set fire to his farm and kidnap one of his nephews in 2010. The lawyer also confirmed that Muradian’s loyalists clashed with a group of other local men after a village election in September last year. Media reports said those men worked for the incumbent mayor’s HHK challenger.
The ruling party has denied any responsibility for Muradian’s death.