The head of Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) insisted on Monday that the law-enforcement body had sufficient evidence to arrest and indict a former deputy commander of Armenian interior troops over the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.
The retired office, Gegham Petrosian, was detained on June 4 before being charged with killing Zakar Hovannisian, one of the opposition demonstrators who clashed with security forces on March 1-2, 2008.
Petrosian denies the accusation. His lawyer, Vagharshak Gevorgian, said on June 6 that it is based on testimony by a purported eyewitness who claims that his client shot Hovannisian when the latter attempted to hit him with a metal bar. Gevorgian insisted that the SIS has not come up with any forensic evidence corroborating that testimony.
The SIS chief, Sasun Khachatrian, claimed the opposite when he spoke to reporters. Asked whether investigators can prove that the protester was shot by a pistol used by Petrosian, Khachatrian said: “In the interests of the investigation I don’t want to answer that question at this point. But it is obvious that there is a sufficient collection of evidence [to indict Petrosian.]”
Khachatrian also said that the arrested policeman has so far refused to give testimony to SIS officials investigating the 2008 violence which left eight protesters and two police servicemen dead.
Petrosian is the first person prosecuted in connection with the fatalities. Khachatrian expressed hope that his arrest will help SIS investigators to also solve the other killings.
The deadly clashes erupted as security forces broke up street protests against alleged fraud in the February 2008 presidential election. The protests were organized by Levon Ter-Petrosian, the main opposition presidential candidate.