Major-General Nerses Nazarian, the chief of Yerevan’s police department, has been questioned by law-enforcement authorities in connection with a criminal investigation that has resulted in the arrest of another police general, it emerged on Friday.
Hovannes Tamamian, the controversial head of the Directorate General of Criminal Investigations at Armenia’s national police service, was arrested on Thursday on charges of abuse of power carrying up to six years in prison.
Tamamian is accused of deliberately mishandling a murder investigation conducted by the police last year. He and the police chief of Yerevan’s Arabkir district, Colonel Varuzhan Adamian, were dismissed from their positions late last month.
“Within the framework of that infamous criminal case, the day before yesterday I was indeed summoned to the Special Investigative Service (SIS),” Nazarian told a news conference. “They spoke to me as a witness. I gave all necessary explanations.”
“Why wouldn’t I give explanations? Everyone who was at the scene of the crime, participated or ran the case is being questioned,” he said.
Nazarian refuted media claims that Adamian has implicated not only Tamamian but also him in the allegedly botched probe. “God forbid such things,” he said. “The chief of the Yerevan police has nothing to do with such cases.”
Tamamian’s arrest and prosecution is a major embarrassment for the Armenian police, coming less than a year after the mysterious death of a man in police custody in the central town of Charentsavan. Last November, a local police officer was sentenced to eight years in prison in connection with that incident.
Nazarian did not deny media reports that the SIS and prosecutors are now also looking into other suspicious criminal cases handled by Tamamian. One of them led to the death of a man questioned at the Directorate General of Criminal Investigations in 2007.
The police claimed at the time that the 30-year-old Levon Gulian fell to his death while attempting to escape from a second-floor interrogation room. Gulian’s relatives rejected that theory, saying that Gulian was beaten to death while being interrogated by Tamamian.
“There are cases that are being examined,” Nazarian said, commenting on the reports. “And just like this case, the other cases will definitely be highlighted.” He did not elaborate.