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Army Officer Linked To Opposition Gunmen


Armenia - A general view of Erebuni police station seized by gunmen and supporters of fringe jailed opposition leader Zhirair Sefilian, in Yerevan, July 30, 2016.

Armenia - A general view of Erebuni police station seized by gunmen and supporters of fringe jailed opposition leader Zhirair Sefilian, in Yerevan, July 30, 2016.

Armenian law-enforcement authorities have launched criminal proceedings against a junior army officer in connection with the recent deadly attack on a police station in Yerevan carried out by armed members of a radical opposition group, it emerged on Tuesday.

The Special Investigative Service (SIS) said the officer is prosecuted under two articles of the Armenian Criminal Code. One of them deals with “theft of ammunition.”

An SIS statement gave no details of the case against the unnamed “commander of a platoon,” saying only that it has been incorporated into the broader inquiry into the July 17 attack, which is led by the law-enforcement agency. Nor did it clarify whether the officer, presumably a lieutenant, is under arrest.

The 31 oppositionists seized the police compound in Yerevan’s Erebuni district on July 17, demanding President Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation and the release of Zhirayr Sefilian, the arrested leader of their Founding Parliament opposition movement. They killed at least two policemen and took hostage several other law-enforcement officers as well as medical personnel before laying down their arms two weeks later.

According to the SIS, the armed group had 14 assault rifles and two of them had been stolen from the Armenian police and military years ago. Investigators are now trying to determine “sources of the acquisition” of the other weapons, read the SIS statement.

A total of 60 individuals have been charged in the high-profile case, the statement said, adding that 50 of them are held in detention while two others remain on the run. Investigators have conducted hundreds of interrogations and searches and obtained “information containing banking secrets,” it said.

The Erebuni attack came almost one month after Sefilian was arrested for allegedly plotting an armed revolt against the Armenian government. Sefilian and his associates denied the accusations as politically motivated.

Last month, the SIS decided to merge the case against Sefilian with the Erebuni attack probe, suggesting that the Founding Parliament leader may be implicated in the hostage crisis.

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