Six senior officers of an Armenian army unit have been dismissed in connection with last month’s non-combat death of one of its soldiers, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
The soldier, Lyuks Stepanian, was shot and killed by a fellow conscript, Davit Khachatrian, in still unclear circumstances on May 15. Another soldier from their army unit deployed in northern Tavush province was seriously wounded in the incident. Khachatrian is currently under arrest pending investigation.
The Defense Minister launched last month a separate internal inquiry into the latest non-combat death in the army ranks. Artsrun Hovannisian, the ministry spokesman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the six officers have been fired as a result of that probe. Among them are two deputy commanders and the chief of staff of the regiment where the three soldiers served, he said.
Hovannisian also clarified that only one of the officers, who has a lower rank and was the soldiers’ immediate commander, is likely to face criminal charges.
Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian personally promised the sackings when he was confronted by furious and grief-stricken relatives of Stepanian. Ohanian met them after they threatened to take the dead soldier’s body to Yerevan and put it on display outside a government building.
It is still not clear why Khachatrian opened fire on his comrades. Military officials say only that the shooting was preceded by a dispute between him and Stepanian. They have yet to publicize the shooter’s pre-trial testimony.
The wounded soldier, Hrachya Sargsian, has also shed little light on the incident. Sargsian was seriously wounded in the head and only recently regained consciousness at a military hospital in Yerevan.
“He doesn’t know what happened,” Sargsian’s father told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). He said although the left side of the 19-year-old’s body is paralyzed doctors hope that he will fully recover from the severe injury.