Sargsyan is being held in the death of TV
journalist Tigran Naghdalyan.
Trial opened Tuesday in the murder of Tigran
Naghdalyan, chairman of the Board of Directors
of Armenian Public Television.
Naghdalyan was shot to death last December 28
as he was leaving his parents' home on Zakyan
Street in Yerevan.
The high-profile murder made big noise in Armenia's
political community. Naghdalyan, a journalist,
had been a strong supporter of President Robert
Kocharyan, and was in fact appointed to his position
by the President. His killing came only weeks
before campaigning began for the presidential
elections, and drew speculation that the murder
was ordered by opposition parties.
A further theory emerged that Naghdalyan was
in fact killed because he had valuable information
concerning the October 27, 1999 Parliament assassinations,
and was to be called to give testimony that would
have suggested a complicity in those murders by
certain members of the Government.
Businessman Armen Sargsyan, brother of slain
Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan is among 13 charged
with the murder. It is alleged that Armen Sargsyan
paid $75,000 to have Naghdalyan killed.
The General Prosecutor's office announced that
it had identified suspects in the killing just
hours before results of the preliminary presidential
elections were posted.
Ten days later Armen Sargsyan was named as a
suspect, prompting his brother, former Prime Minister,
Aram, to release a statement insisting on his
The opening day of the Naghdalyan trial drew
a large crowd that included the victim's father,
sister, widow and colleagues.
Also on hand were politicians that included leaders
of the "Justice" bloc (former presidential
candidate) Stepan Demirchyan, Shavarsh Kocharyan,
Arshak Sadoyan and Raffi Hovannisian.
"I am sure that they (those accused of the
murder) are the people who committed the crime,"
said the victim's father, Hovhannes Naghdalyan.
"I, myself, saw the killer walking around
in our yard. And he confirmed that he had been
Among the charged is John Harutyunyan -- one
of four defendents from Karabakh -- who is believed
to be the man Naghdalyan's father says he saw
in his yard.
"Concerning the one who ordered the murder,
I can't say anything yet until Armen Sargsyan
talks about that. I will talk about that later
if it would be necessary. Of course, I know who
they are but I can't talk about that today,"
According to the indictment, the motive of the
murder was "mercenary considerations"
and "Tigran Naghdalyan's official activities
as well as his TV reports concerning the October
27 incident". But the victim's father is
not convinced of the Parliament killings connection.
"I can't say in full yet as they are talking
about some tape and groundlessly linking it to
the incident of October 27," Naghdalyan said.
Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan (right), the
brother of Vazgen and Armen , speaks with
another (former presidential candidate) Aram
Sargsyan. In the background Raffi Hovanissian
speaks with runner up to the presidency, Stepan
Attorney Robert Grigoryan, representing the rights
of Armen Sargsyan at the trial, believes that
the motive of murder, according to the documents
of the case, is supposition and it can't be taken
"There are no proofs confirming the motive
of the murder in the criminal case," says
Aram Sargsyan appeared at the trial to re-state
his belief in his brother's innocence, saying
that Armen Sargsyan "has nothing to do with
The general court atmosphere drew a comparison
by Aram Sargsyan to the October 27 trial of Nairy
Hunanyan and others.
"My brother is put in jail next to the
prisoners of the October 27 case. Putting Armen
right in this hall, at the very place where Hunanyan
was sitting reminds me that some people sick in
the head," he said.
Russian attorney Oleg Yunoshev (representing
the Sargsyan family interests) was the first to
make a connection between Nagdhalyan's murder
and the October 27 incident. Yunoshev claimed
that if Naghdalyan, a potential witness
in the case, had already given testimony in that
trial, he would not have been killed.
At the time, Yunoshev was criticized for his
dramatic claim, and questions arose as to why
it came as the election campaign was starting.
Now, however, it appears that a possible connection
will be an intriquing argument when the Naghdalyan
trial resumes next week.