Two men have been arrested in connection with last month’s violent attack in the southeastern Armenian town of Goris that was allegedly orchestrated by a son of Suren Khachatrian, a controversial regional governor.
The Investigative Committee, a law-enforcement body dealing with the high-profile case, did not name the suspects when it reported the arrests in a statement released on Wednesday.
An informed source in Goris, who did not want to be identified, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that one of them is the son of Khachatrian’s driver while the other a close friend of his notorious son Tigran.
The Investigative Committee statement said they are suspected of beating up Mushegh Zakarian, one of the two Goris residents who were seriously injured in the May 2 incident. According to Zakarian’s lawyer Levon Sahakian, the two suspects were taken into custody on Tuesday following their face-to-face interrogation with his client.
Mushegh suffered a broken nose while his younger brother Harut lost vision in one eye after being attacked by a large group of other men which they say were led by Tigran Khachatrian. Harut Zakarian is currently undergoing medical treatment abroad. Nobody has been charged yet with causing his severe injury.
Investigators reluctantly interrogated the 21-year-old Khachatrian on May 16 amid a media and opposition uproar in Yerevan. The governor’s son currently has a status of a witness in the case, a fact decried by the Zakarian brothers’ parents. They say that their sons received threats from Khachatrian in the run-up to the violence.
Both Khachatrian and his father, who runs Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province, deny any involvement. The governor, who has a history of violent conduct, was questioned by the Investigative Committee last week.
The Goris beatings occurred almost two years after Tigran and his father’s bodyguards shot dead a man in a violent dispute outside the Khachatrians’ local villa. Tigran and one of the bodyguards were arrested in the following days only to be cleared of murder charges and set free two months later. Law-enforcement authorities said the gunshots fired by them constituted legitimate self-defense.
Despite denying any involvement, Suren Khachatrian was sacked in the wake of the 2013 shootings. But he was reinstated as Syunik governor a year later. The May 2 incident reinforced a widely held belief that Khachatrian and his violent family continue to enjoy impunity thanks to their loyalty to President Serzh Sarkisian.