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Armenian Police Chief’s Nephew Charged With Assault


Armenia - The chief of the Armenian police, Valeri Osipian, speaks to journalists in Yerevan, December 20, 2018.

A nephew of Valeri Osipian, the chief of the Armenian police, has been indicted in a renewed criminal investigation into a stabbing incident that occurred in Yerevan five years ago.

Osipian insisted on Friday that the 27-year-old Sedrak Osipian did not stab and seriously wound another young man during the June 2014 dispute in the city’s southern Nubarashen suburb.

A local resident, Smbul Hovannisian, said shortly after the incident that Valeri Osipian, who was then a deputy chief of Yerevan’s police department, asked her to have her son Sargis confess to the crime and thus save Sedrak from imprisonment.

Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) investigated the allegation which was strongly denied by Osipian. It cleared the latter of any wrongdoing later in 2014.

Another law-enforcement agency, the Investigative Committee announced this week that it has reopened the inquiry into the stabbing and charged Sedrak, Smbul Hovannisian’s son Sargis and two other men in connection with it.

Sargis’s elder brother, Samvel Hovannisian, told RFE/RL Armenian service on Thursday that he has been arrested in Russia. He said he fears that Sargis will be unfairly blamed for the violent attack. He also claimed that Osipian meddled in the investigation in 2014.

Osipian flatly denied any influence on the probe. “If I did have such influence, I would have made sure that the case is not reopened in the first place,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

“Please stop linking me with that case,” he said. “I have nothing to do with it. I’m busy doing my job.”

The police chief also insisted on his nephew’s innocence. “I’m sure that it wasn’t my brother’s son [who stabbed the Nubarashen resident.] I’m sure that the investigators will prove that.”

Osipian used to be in charge of police units dealing with rallies and other public gatherings held in Yerevan. He was a fixture at virtually all major street protests staged against Armenia’s former government. Those included last spring’s mass protests led by Nikol Pashinian.

Pashinian unexpectedly appointed Osipian as chief of the national police service immediately after becoming prime minister in May 2018.

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