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Family Of Woman Killed By Pashinian Motorcade Sticks To Cover-Up Claims


Armenia - Flowers, toys, and candles on a street in Yerevan where a pregnant woman was hit and killed by a police car that led Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's motorcade, April 27, 2022.

Relatives of a pregnant woman who died after being hit by a police car escorting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s motorcade continued to accuse Armenian authorities of a cover-up as the sole suspect in the case went on trial on Thursday.

They argued that the authorities refrained from holding the suspect in detention and prosecuting other, more high-ranking security officials over the death of Sona Mnatsakanian. They also claimed that key evidence relevant to the high-profile case is withheld by prosecutors.

Mnatsakanian, 29, was struck by a police SUV while crossing a street in the center of Yerevan in April this year. The vehicle did not stop after the collision. Its driver, police Major Aram Navasardian, was twice arrested by investigators but freed by courts despite being charged with reckless driving and negligence.

Navasardian again denied the accusations at the start of his trial in Yerevan. He also insisted that he did not flee the site of the accident.

Navasardian’s lawyer, Ruben Baloyan, went farther, effectively blaming Mnatsakanian for her death. Baloyan said that his client should not have been indicted in the first place.

Meanwhile, Mnatsakanian’s family petitioned the Yerevan court to arrest the policeman pending the outcome of the trial, saying that his being at large has adversely impacted the pre-trial investigation. The court rejected the demand.

“It looks like we are fighting against the state apparatus,” Grigor Mnatsakanian, the victim’s uncle, told reporters. “Had there been no favoritism [the police officer] would have been in jail now.”

Raffi Aslanian, a lawyer representing the dead woman’s family, said the probe was deeply flawed also because no members of Pashinian’s security detail or other officials in charge of his motorcade were prosecuted as well.

Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian inspects new Patrol Police vehicles in Gyumri, April 16, 2022.
Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian inspects new Patrol Police vehicles in Gyumri, April 16, 2022.

Aslanian further complained that investigators have still not clearly explained why they did not obtain and use audio of radio conversations among security personnel that escorted Pashinian on that day. The victim’s mother, Armine Makinian, alleged earlier that the recordings were destroyed as part of the cover-up.

Makinian pointed out that her daughter died more than an hour after being hit by the police car. She said Mnatsakanian or her unborn baby could have stayed alive had she been immediately rushed to hospital.

Pashinian’s limousine and the six other cars making up his motorcade drove past the dying woman. Pashinian has still not publicly commented on the accident that shocked many in Armenia.

The deputy chief of the prime minister’s staff claimed in April 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. Opposition figures and other government critics brushed aside that explanation, blaming Pashinian for Mnatsakanian’s death.

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