Armenian law-enforcement authorities have so far made no progress in their fresh criminal inquiry into the 2008 post-election clashes in Yerevan that was ordered by President Serzh Sarkisian last month, a senior investigator said on Wednesday.
Vahagn Harutiunian, a senior official from the Special Investigative Service (SIS) leading the inquiry, said none of more than 50 witnesses questioned by his team this month gave information that could shed more light on the circumstances of the unrest.
“There is no progress but we hope that at least somebody will be able to come up with some important facts,” Harutiunian told a news conference. “In that regard, we plan to carry out more than 600 interrogations in the hope of obtaining new facts regarding those criminal incidents.”
According to him, the investigators have not yet decided whether to question Robert Kocharian, who was Armenia’s outgoing president during the March 1-2, 2008 violence in central Yerevan, and opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian.
The SIS, which is subordinate to state prosecutors, contended until recently that the violence was the result of an opposition attempt forcibly and illegally seize power. Ter-Petrosian and his Armenian National Congress (HAK) strongly deny this, saying that the Kocharian government used deadly force against opposition protesters to enforce the results of what they consider a rigged presidential election.
Responding to HAK demands, Sarkisian told law-enforcement authorities on April 20 to investigate the unrest “once again and more meticulously.” The president said they should pay particular attention to identifying and punishing those responsible for the deaths of eight protesters and two police servicemen. The SIS announced a “thorough review” of its controversial inquiry the next day.
Harutiunian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service last week that the SIS has decided to interrogate more individuals who witnessed or were involved in the worst street violence in Armenia’s history. Police officers will be among them, he said.
The SIS official also said on Wednesday that the investigators are now examining new video of those events that appeared on the Internet this week. He said they will present their conclusions soon.
The amateur footage purportedly shows police and other security officers firing at opposition protesters during the clashes. HAK representatives have already portrayed it as further proof that security forces deliberately shot and killed protesters.