Law-enforcement authorities in Armenia have dropped criminal charges against a 32-year-old woman who has admitted killing her reportedly violent husband in May.
The 34-year-old man, Tigran Martirosian, was shot dead in his house in Gugark, a village in the northern Lori province, during a bitter argument with his wife, Liana Kirakosian. She was arrested and charged with excessive self-defense at the time.
Kirakosian was set free pending investigation three days later. Armenia’s Investigative Committee also ordered police to protect her against possible reprisals.
The committee announced late on Wednesday that Kirakosian will not go on trial and risk imprisonment after all. Presenting the results of its criminal investigation, the law-enforcement body said that she had been “periodically subjected to violence” by her husband and was again attacked by him late on May 24. It said Martirosian pointed an illegally owned gun at the pregnant woman’s head and threatened to kill her before she wrested it and fired gunshots at him “in the heat of passion.”
A statement by the Investigative Committee added that the criminal case against Kirakosian has been dropped because the woman “regrets” her actions even though she suffered “strong physical pain and mental suffering” at the hands of her husband.
The victim’s late father, Edik Martirosian, was a reputed crime figure better known to Lori residents as “Chachoents Edo.” The latter was gunned down in 2004 along with his elder son Hovannes and another relative.
The investigators announced their decision to clear the dead man’s wife of wrongdoing amid ongoing heated debates in Armenia on a government bill aimed combatting domestic violence. The bill introduced by the Justice Ministry in September met with fierce resistance from some conservative groups and nationalist public figures.
Senior members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) also voiced serious misgivings, saying that some of the bill’s provisions would undermine traditional “Armenian family values.” The ministry responded by amending the draft law. Its expanded title now states that the proposed legislation is aimed at not only preventing domestic violence and protecting its victims but also “restoring solidarity within families.”
The Armenian parliament’s committee on legal affairs discussed and backed the bill on Thursday, paving the way for its passage by the full National Assembly. Only one committee member, Gevorg Petrosian, objected to the bill, calling it a breeding ground for conflicts between police and married men. Vanik Asatrian, another lawmaker representing businessman Gagik Tsarukian’s alliance, claimed that many rural residents in his constituency in central Armenia are strongly opposed to any police intervention in family disputes.
The committee chairman, Hrayr Tovmasian, sought to dispel such concerns, saying that the police would be required to intervene only in cases where the lives or health of family members are at risk.
According to the Yerevan-based Women’s Resource Center, more than 50 Armenian women have been beaten to death or murdered otherwise by their husbands or other relatives in the last five years.