By Shakeh Avoyan
Opposition leader Aram Sarkisian said on Monday that his brother Armen will not be cleared of charges in a high-profile murder case because of what he sees as a political vendetta waged against their family by the authorities.
The downbeat forecast came ahead of a court ruling on an appeal filed after a lower-level court convicted businessman Armen Sarkisian of masterminding the December 2002 killing of state television chief Tigran Naghdalian and sentenced him to 15 years’ imprisonment. The Armenian Review Court is scheduled to hand down the verdict on Tuesday after two weeks of hearings that raised fresh questions about the credibility of the charges.
“I am absolutely sure that the court will not decide to acquit him,” Aram Sarkisian told RFE/RL. “We have proved in both courts that Armen Sarkisian is innocent, while the authorities failed to prove the opposite, despite having the prosecutor’s office, judges and even some defendants under their control.”
“That is being done to discredit the Sarkisian family and that process began right after October 27,” he charged, referring to the 1999 terrorist attack on the Armenian parliament in which his second brother, then Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, was shot dead along with seven other officials.
Armen Sarkisian vehemently denied his involvement in Naghdalian’s murder at the end of the hearings last week which saw another key defendant withdraw his pre-trial incriminating testimony against the oppositionist’s brother. Sarkisian’s lawyers said the case against their client is based on “contradictory” written accounts of only one suspect.
The prosecution insisted that that provides sufficient grounds for a guilty verdict against Sarkisian. They said he had organized the killing because he suspected Naghdalian’s involvement in the parliament shootings.