An Armenian law-enforcement agency has exonerated a former provincial governor of responsibility for a violent assault that led to his resignation.
Trdat Sargsian announced on September 24 his decision to resign as governor of Armenia’s southeastern Vayots Dzor province amid a criminal investigation into a violent dispute that left an Armenian army officer critically injured.
An aide to Sargsian and his brother were arrested on charges of beating up Lieutenant-Colonel Ara Mkhitarian in the provincial capital Yeghegnadzor on September 17. The governor strongly denied allegations that he was involved in the incident. His possible involvement has been a key focus of the investigation.
The Investigative Committee said on Monday that footage from a security camera shows that Sargsian was at home during the incident. Forensic tests have concluded that the video was not doctored, it said, adding that Sargsian’s testimony is also corroborated by the content of his phone conversations on September 17-18.
In a statement, the committee said its investigators have therefore concluded that the ex-governor “did not witness the incident” and “was not at the site of the incident.” It noted at the same time that this conclusion contradicts testimony given by four other army officers who were with the victim during the violence. They all alleged Sargsian’s presence at the scene, according to the statement.
Sargsian, 30, is a member of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract party. The government appointed a lawyer who has represented his arrested aide as Vayots Dzor’s new governor on October 31.