By Karine Kalantarian
A special parliamentary commission investigating Armenia’s 2008 post-election unrest will ask the National Assembly next week to again extend its mandate, its chairman, Samvel Nikoyan, said on Monday.
The commission, dominated by pro-government lawmakers and boycotted by the Armenian opposition, was formed last June to conduct an independent inquiry into the deadly March 1 clashes in Yerevan. It was initially due to complete the probe by October. The commission’s mandate was extended until February 25 shortly before the initial deadline for the publication of its report.
According to Nikoyan, the commission needs more time to complete its work because it has so far failed to clarify the circumstances in which eight civilians and two security personnel were killed in the clashes. He also argued that the commission is still awaiting information from another body investigating the unrest.
The Fact-Finding Group of Experts, in which the opposition and the government camp are equally represented, began its confidential work in November and has yet to issue any statements. Its main mission is to collect key facts relating to the March 1 events and present them to Nikoyan’s commission.
“The commission is obliged to look into information submitted by the fact-finding group,” Nikoyan told RFE/RL. “So the commission’s mandate should be extended as long as the fact-finding group has not submitted its report.”
Law-enforcement bodies conducting the main, criminal investigation into the clashes has so far not explained just how the ten persons lost their lives during the worst street violence in Armenia’s history. Vahagn Harutiunian, a senior law-enforcement official who heads the team of investigators, acknowledged last week that they are unlikely to shed more light on their deaths.
Nikoyan said that his commission is “somewhat disappointed” with that. He said he is therefore not sure that the parliamentary inquiry will achieve all of its objectives.
(Photolur photo: Samvel Nikoyan.)