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Village Mayor’s Murder Unsolved 2 Years On


Armenia - A candlelight vigil in Yerevan's Liberty Square in memory of Hrach Muradian, a village mayor murdered on April 2, 4Apr2013.

Two years after a village mayor affiliated with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) was shot dead in broad daylight, law-enforcement authorities have not identified those responsible for what his relatives and friends consider a politically motivated crime.

Hrach Muradian was gunned down outside his office in Proshian, a big village just west of Yerevan, on April 2, 2013. A local resident was arrested in the following days on charges of carrying out the killing. The suspect, who strongly denied the accusation, was set free for lack of evidence ten months later.

Muradian’s family also questioned his alleged involvement, saying that other, more influential individuals were involved in the high-profile killing. Some family members have repeatedly alleged a high-level cover-up of the crime.

Late last week, the late mayor’s wife sent an open letter to President Serzh Sarkisian urging him to help solve the killing. She said that investigators’ failure to punish its masterminds and perpetrators is a “challenge” to Sarkisian as well.

Dashnaktsutyun, which is officially in opposition to the Armenian government, has also alleged political motives behind the crime. In October 2013, the influential party rallied hundreds of supporters outside the presidential palace in Yerevan to protest against the lack of progress in the investigation.

Dashnaktsutyun representatives said at the time that Muradian was at loggerheads with local activists of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and other government loyalists throughout his tenure. They said he received threats from unknown individuals and faced frequent financial audits by higher-level authorities.

Dashnaktsutyun leaders have rarely mentioned the unsolved case in their public statements over the past year, fuelling allegations that they are reluctant to spoil their warming rapport with President Sarkisian. One of them, Aghvan Vartanian, strongly denied such claims on Wednesday, however.

“Dashnaktsutyun has not changed course … This remains our common pain,” Vartanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). He said his party is very unhappy with the current state of the inquiry into Muradian’s killing.

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