- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 November 14 , 2003 

The Naghdalyan Case: Sargsyan swears oath on son's life of his own innocence

Armen Sargsyan testifying earlier in the trial.

Family of Tigran Naghdalyan and defendants in his murder trial have had their final say and it is now up to Judge Saro Aramyan to render a verdict within the next 10 days.

Naghdalyan, the chairman of the Board of Directors of Armenian Public Television, was shot to death last December 28.

The last hours of the three-month trial were tense, with moments of drama.

Karine Naghdalyan, sister of the murdered journalist, and his legal beneficiary, tearfully told the court that 15 years (sentences suggested by the prosecution for confessed-killer John Harutyunyan and for alleged conspirator Armen Sargsyan) were not justice for her brother's death.

"Two hundred fifty thousand dollars were set aside for the murder," the sister said. "Doesn't this fact mean that this is a case for maximum punishment?"

Karine Naghdalyan said she is convinced that the murder was ordered and suspects that Armen Sargsyan ordered it, and that there are other conspirators who haven't been identified. She accused defendant Lyova Harutyunyan of shielding others.

In reply, Harutyunyan characterized himself as a patriot who acted of his own volition in arranging Naghdalyan's death.

After three months of tesifying, defendants await the verdict..

"Like each Armenian, remembering Mkhitar Sarapet's head at the feet of the Turkish pasha, and seeing Vazgen Sargsyan's head under the rifle butt, I also had a right to think, to express myself (to take my revenge upon the organizers), and I did. This idea had occurred to me, but I rejected it. Armen Sargsyan did not give me any orders," Lyova Harutyunyan said.

Lyova Harutyunyan's attorney petitioned the court to drop charges against his client and set him free.

John Harutyunyan's attorney lauded his client's "sincerity and honesty". Hartuyunyan himself told the court he is "ready to face any punishment".

Defendant Samvel Abrahamyan, appealed for sympathy on the basis of his and fellow defendants' war records.

"If our nation had at least one victory during its whole history, the victory was earned thanks to us and boys like us. Nobody has mentioned during the debates that the first tank during the heroic battles was blown up by (defendant) Felix Arustamyan, or that John Harutyunyan is a hero, who was wounded, and is now taking care of his and his perished brother's family," said Abrahamyan who was a commander of Arustamyan and Harutyunyan's unit during the war in Karabakh.

Karine Naghdalyan turned to the defendants:

"I would like to turn to the criminals," she said. "They can use all the means to justify themselves, but they can't use their children. As to the defense of their homeland, it is the sacred duty of each Armenian man."

Tigran Nagahdalyan's father and sister are not pleased with the proposed light sentences.

Armen Sargsyan's attorney, Amalya Avagyan, said there were numerous violations during the court sessions, and attorney Robert Grigoryan rebutted the prosecution's argument that Sargsyan wanted Naghdalyan dead because Naghdalyan had mocked Sargsyan's dead brother, Vazgen, the Prime Minister who was killed in the October 27, 1999 parliament assassinations.

Among the courtroom drama as last statements were heard Tuesday, was Armen Sargsyan's self-defense speech. Turning to Naghdalyan's family, he swore an oath that, in Armenia, supercedes legal binds in the minds of many.

"If I have ever expressed my dissatisfaction to Lyova Harutyunyan or Hovhannes Hovhannisyan of Tigran Naghdalyan's programs, or of him showing the film shots of the 27th and mocking my brother, if I have ever ordered, asked or offered to kill Tigran Naghdalyan, may my 14 year-old son share his destiny," said the excited Sargsyan.

Finally, Sargsyan in essence told the court that he agrees with Karine Naghdalyan that a 15-year sentence is not sufficient for the guilty, even if that includes him.

"I ask the court to deeply and in details study the facts," he said, "and if I am found to be guilty in ordering Tigran Naghdalyan's murder, then the victim is right - the one who gave the murder order deserves a life sentence".



More in

On Trial - August-22-2003
Naghdalyan Case, Session Four - September-05-2003
Tigran Naghdalyan Murder Case - September-12-2003
The Naghdalyan Case - September-26-2003
The Naghdalyan Case - October-3-2003
The Naghdalyan Case - October-24-2003
Naghdalyan Murder - October-31-2003

Or click here for previous stories on the case.


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Two Smoking Barrels?

Russia's Minister of Defense, Sergei Ivanov (smoking left) and Armenia's Minister of Defense Serzh Sargsyan (smoking right) blew smoke together this week during a visit to the Genocide Monument.



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