By Karine Kalantarian
A Russian lawyer representing the family of the assassinated Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian has been summoned to the Armenian prosecutor-general’s office for questioning after alleging that President Robert Kocharian was involved in the 1999 parliament massacre, a senior investigator said Thursday.
The attorney, Oleg Yunoshev, charged at the marathon trial of the six attack perpetrators this week that Kocharian and his closest associate, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, “participated” in the crime’s preparation. It was the first time that he openly implicated Armenia’s two most powerful men in the shock assassination of Vazgen Sarkisian and seven other officials.
“The reason for the summons issued to Yunoshev is his court statements,” John Farkhoyan, who leads a team of prosecutors continuing to investigate the killings, told RFE/RL. “We very much want to know if he has any facts or basis for making them.”
Yunoshev, however, has no desire to be questioned by the prosecutors and will ignore the order, according to Aram Sarkisian, his client and Vazgen’s younger brother. He argued that the lawyer based his claims on the course of the trial which he, the Sarkisian family and its supporters believe has been obstructed by the authorities.
“Why haven’t these authorities ensured a fair trial? What are they afraid of?” Aram Sarkisian told RFE/RL. “It is these unanswered questions that lead Oleg Yunoshev, myself and more than 90 percent of the population to express such a view.”
Yunoshev and the lawyers for the late parliament speaker Karen Demirchian and other victims have repeatedly accused the courts of hushing up important facts that might have shed more light to the terrorist raid on the National Assembly which remains a mystery for many people despite the prosecution of its immediate perpetrators. They were, in particular, enraged by the presiding judge’s decision to question many witnesses of the crime, including Kocharian who personally negotiated with ringleader Nairi Hunanian hours after he seized the chamber.
But the authorities say they have done their best to clear up all circumstances of the shootings and deny obstructing justice. They argue that the investigators led by Farkhoyan continue to look for their presumed masterminds. They in turn accuse Sarkisian and Demirchian’s son Stepan of exploiting the case for political purposes.
Farkhoyan warned that Yunoshev will forcibly be taken to the prosecutor’s office if he declines to show up.