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Yerevan Gunman ‘Sought Meeting With Kocharian’s Son’


Armenia -- Police officers guard the entrance to the Erebuni Plaza Business Center after a gunman opened fire there, Yerevan, January 23, 2020.

A gunman arrested by the Armenian police wanted to meet with former President Robert Kocharian’s elder son Sedrak when he opened fire and took a hostage at an office building in Yerevan last week, a lawyer said on Thursday.

“At least he has given such testimony,” Eduard Aghajanian, who represents the 32-year-old man, Artur Torosian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Aghajanian said his client gave investigators “no clear answer” as to why he sought a meeting with Sedrak Kocharian. He suggested that Torosian may be suffering from mental disorders and could undergo a relevant medical examination.

“In particular, he claimed that he was ‘programmed’ and he tried to find out who ‘programmed’ him and for what purpose,” explained the lawyer.

Torosian, surrendered to the police on January 23 after a two-hour standoff at the Erebuni Plaza Business Center which did not leave anyone wounded. The national police chief, Arman Sargsian, personally negotiated with him and drove him to a police station in his car.

The Investigative Committee subsequently charged Torosian with life-threatening assault and hostage taking. A spokeswoman for the law-enforcement body declined to comment on the gunman’s testimony cited by his lawyer.

Erebuni Plaza houses the offices of the United Nations, several private companies as well as Kocharian and two media outlets sympathetic to him. The jailed former president is currently standing trial on coup and corruption charges strongly denied by him.

Torosian worked until last October for a private security firm in Yerevan. According to Vahagn Harutiunian, the director of the Berkut firm, 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.

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