The 28-year-old pregnant woman, Sona Mnatsakanian, was struck by a police SUV while crossing a street in the city center. The vehicle did not stop after the collision that sparked more opposition calls for Pashinian’s resignation. Its driver, Major Aram Navasardian, was arrested a few hours later.
The Investigative Committee charged Navasardian with violating traffic rules on Friday hours before releasing him from custody. A spokesperson for the law-enforcement agency said the officer signed a formal pledge not to leave Armenia during the investigation.
The investigators did not identify any other suspects in the high-profile case.
Navasardian’s lawyer, Ruben Baloyan, said his client is not accused of fleeing the scene and not helping the victim who later died from her severe injuries.
“He came back to the scene of the accident and took part in its examination,” Baloyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
According the Investigative Committee, the traffic policeman showed up only two hours after Tuesday’s crash.
Pashinian’s limousine and the six other cars making up his motorcade also drove past the dying woman and did not try to help her. The prime minister has still not publicly commented on the unprecedented accident.
The deputy chief of his staff, Taron Chakhoyan, claimed on Wednesday that the motorcade would have caused a traffic jam and made it harder for an ambulance to reach the victim had it stopped right after the crash.
Chakhoyan also said that “internationally accepted rules” stipulate that the motorcades of government leaders “have no right to stop in unauthorized places.”
Narek Martirosian, a reporter with the fact-checking website fip.am, dismissed the official’s claim. He said that both Armenian law and an international convention on road safety signed by Armenia require everyone to stop at the scene of an accident caused by them.
Opposition figures have been even more critical of Pashinian’s failure to halt his motorcade. Some of them have blamed him for the woman’s death and demanded his resignation.
The victim’s family has not publicly commented on the crash so far.