The chief of the Armenian police, Alik Sargsian, on Friday effectively confirmed reports that dozens of police investigators have protested against the arrest of one of their colleagues accused of murder cover-up.
Vahan Khanzadian, a senior officer from the Directorate General of Criminal Investigations, was taken into custody last week for his role in a murder probe which state prosecutors say was deliberately mishandled by the police.
The controversial head of the police directorate, Major-General Hovannes Tamamian, and another senior police officer were arrested last month as part of the same inquiry conducted by the Special Investigative Service.
The Armenian press claimed earlier this week that more than 50 police investigators condemned Khanzadian’s prosecution and threatened to resign in protest.
Sargsian only partly denied those reports. “Naturally, investigators expressed concern about their colleague’s arrest,” he told reporters. “They gathered at the Directorate General of Criminal Investigations and discussed that issue.”
Sargsian insisted that none of them threatened to quit. “This was an ordinary working discussion, which was natural because their colleague was arrested,” he said. “But when we explained the reasons, when people realized what the whole thing is about … I think they understood everything and everyone got back to work.”
Tamamian’s arrested came shortly after President Serzh Sarkisian’s a March 14 meeting with high-ranking police personnel during which he decried corruption and incompetence within the police ranks. Citing that criticism, Sargsian on Thursday pledged to take “stricter” punitive measures against police officers who break the law or are caught in other wrongdoing.
The police chief reaffirmed that pledged and vowed to embark on a radical reform of the national police service as the law-enforcement agency marked the 10th anniversary of the establishment of its existing structure.
“Within a short period of time -- in one, two or three years -- you will get a new Armenian police meeting European standards but retaining Armenian mentality,” he said.