Gayane Hakobian, whose son Zhora Martirosian was killed during the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh, walked free because of pleading guilty to the accusation strongly denied by her until then. She avoided talking to the press after the announcement of the guilty verdict. The final session of the trial took place behind the closed doors.
The lawyers who represented Hakobian for the last two weeks said earlier in the day that she has fired them because of disagreeing with their defense tactic. They did not deny that she struck a deal with prosecutors.
“There is a conflict between Mrs. Gayane’s and our positions,” one of the lawyers, Hovsep Sargsian, told reporters. “We planned on continuing our defense aimed at her acquittal, but Mrs. Gayane is of a different opinion now.”
Hakobian already replaced other lawyers who represented her right after her arrest on May 17, which sparked angry protests by several dozen other parents of fallen soldiers and hundreds of their sympathizers. That move fueled speculation that she is cooperating with what the protesters condemned as a politically motivated investigation into her argument with Ashot Pashinian.
Armenia’s Investigative Committee charged Hakobian with tricking the prime minister’s son into getting in her car and trying to drive him to the Yerablur Military Pantheon where her son was buried along with hundreds of other soldiers killed in action. Pashinian Jr. jumped out of the car on their way to Yerablur.
The grief-stricken woman insisted at the start of her trial on June 5 that Ashot Pashinian was not forced into her and that she only wanted to talk to him at Yerablur.
The high-profile trial began hours after the Court of Appeals moved Hakobian to house arrest. The lower court judge presiding over the trial promptly issued a new arrest warrant demanded by the prosecutors and Ashot Pashinian. The latter told the judge that she committed a “grave crime” and must remain behind bars.
Armenian opposition leaders and other critics of the government claim that Nikol Pashinian ordered Hakobian’s arrest in a bid to muzzle the families of deceased soldiers who have staged demonstrations over the past year to demand his prosecution on war-related charges. Hakobian actively participated in them.
The prime minister triggered the regular demonstrations in April 2022 when he responded to continuing opposition criticism of his handling of the disastrous war with Azerbaijan. He said he “could have averted the war, as a result of which we would have had the same situation, but of course without the casualties.” The soldiers’ families say Pashinian thus publicly admitted sacrificing the lives of at least 3,800 Armenian soldiers killed during the six-week war.