A man who reportedly attacked a prominent Armenian photojournalist outside of the Office of the Prosecutor-General last month is a police officer, law-enforcement officials confirmed on Tuesday.
He reportedly swore at and repeatedly hit Gagik Shamshian in the head with a handbag before entering the prosecutors’ headquarters on February 24. Shamshian said he was attacked after refusing to stop taking the man’s pictures.
The incident was caught on security cameras placed on the building. The prosecutors publicized the video images several days later, after Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian publicly told Shamshian to report the attack to law-enforcement authorities. The photojournalist, who works for several pro-opposition newspapers, also managed to photograph the attacker.
“On the basis of the photograph presented by him, we have found the perpetrator,” Ashot Karapetian, the police chief of Yerevan’s central Kentron district, told RFE/RL. He said the latter is a police officer.
A spokesman for the national police service confirmed the information. Citing criminal suspects’ presumption of innocence, the spokesman disclosed only the attacker’s first name, Gagik.
He also told RFE/RL that the police officer has not been formally charged yet. A criminal investigation into the attack is being conducted by the Kentron police under articles of the Armenian Criminal Code dealing with beatings and obstruction of journalists’ work. Such crimes are punishable by up to two months’ imprisonment and fines respectively.
Shamshian, has a history of physical abuse at the hands of security officers, identified the attacker as Gagik Markarian. He said the latter works at the police department of Yerevan’s Erebuni district and was frequently present at the trials of opposition figures arrested after the 2008 presidential election.