A man who burst into an office building in Yerevan and opened fire there last week was formally charged and remanded in pre-trial custody on Sunday.
The man, Artur Torosian, surrendered to police on Thursday after a two-hour standoff at the Erebuni Plaza Business Center which did not leave anyone wounded. The chief of the Armenian police, Arman Sargsian, personally negotiated with Torosian and drove him to a police station in his car.
Torosian’s motives remain unclear. His lawyer, Eduard Aghajanian, on Monday refused to reveal why 32-year-old fired gunshots and briefly held a hostage in the building’s lobby.
Aghajanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that his client rejects the accusations of life-threatening assault and hostage taking leveled against him.He said Torosian must be set free because under the Armenian Criminal Code gunmen freeing hostages and dropping their demands can avoid prosecution.
Erebuni Plaza houses the offices of the United Nations, several private companies as well as the jailed former President Robert Kocharian and two media outlets sympathetic to him. So far Kocharian’s office has not linked the armed assault with the criminal case against the ex-president. The latter is currently standing trial on coup and corruption charges strongly denied by him.
Torosian worked from 2017 to 2019 for a private security firm in Yerevan. Vahagn Harutiunian, the director of the Berkut firm, said that before being hired as a security guard he had passed a police exam and produced documents certifying that he is mentally sane and has no history of drug abuse.
Torosian himself decided to quit his job in October, Harutiunian said. He described the arrested gunman had a “quite intelligent and calm” individual.