hero Hunanyan is reading his regular epistle
to the nation.
After nearly three years, and near the fourth
anniversary of their notoriety, the trial of Nairy
Hunanyan and others may be drawing to a close.
On October 27, 1999, Hunanyan led four accomplices
in an armed attack on the National Assembly, shooting
to death Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan, Assembly
Speaker Karen Demirchyan and six other members
of the Government.
The guilt of the assassins is hardly in question,
as their shooting spree was captured on camera
by television services broadcasting the parliament
Closing arguments have begun, after a week of
more contentious debate between the prosecution
and lawyers representing families of the victims.
Begun in February of 2001, the trial is believed
to be the longest in the history of Armenia, and
perhaps of the region.
The trial has had few moments of real courtroom
drama, but plenty absurd theater, including Hunanyan's
attempt last winter to register as a candidate
for President. And last month, the former journalist/self-acclaimed
hero, entered a motion to start impeachment proceedings
against President Robert Kocharyan.
After early sessions were met with filled galleys
and picketers outside, public interests in the
trail waned. Recent sessions, however have again
been filled, as the public and the legal community
anticipate a conclusion. Some were drawn to the
trial following last week's oppositional party
rally in which authorities were accused of trying
to end the trial to avoid testimony that would
implicate Kocharyan in the parliament killings.
Interests has also been piqued as evidence and
testimony in the Hunanyan trial have overlapped
with the trial of murdered television journalist
Hunanyan has played to his new audience with
sensational claims. And with a poem, part of which
Here I come to confess
And let Hayk Patriarch's holy right hand be witness.
I ain't gonna leave you alone with fate's impulse,
Alone with bunch of lustful vandals,
I ain't gonna let you be dishonored by mischievous
And become its hostage and small wally (toy)
Here I come to wipe your tears away for ever
To exterminate your everyday needs for ever
Òî straighten your backs
To relieve the pain your faces are twisted with
To clear the blur your minds are conquered with
To establish just order of the law
And let my words turn into manna
... let my work become bright example
And be in front of your eyes ample
Year 4496 of the True Armenian Era
Mother City Yerevan
If in the beginning of the trial Hunanyan was
perceived as complex and intense, and was of some
interest, today he is perceived as an ordinary
murderer and he realizes the change of perception.
Through much of the trial Hunanyan tried to portray
himself as a patriot, a revolutionary, a messenger
of the people. But as the trial perhaps draws
to a close, he has dropped his hero pretensions
and paragraph by paragraph denies charges brought
The trial was suspended for six months, from
January 15 to June 15.
Official information says it was suspended for
the first three months due to illness of Uzunyan
and later due to the illness of defendant Vram
Galstyan. Again according to official information,
Galstyan was being treated for heart problems.
He claims, however, that he was forcedly injected
with a drug that induced a nervous disorder.
Opponents of Kocharyan say it was no coincidence
that the judge became "sick" one week
before the presidential election campaign officially
began. Nor, they say, was it coincidence that
Galstyan's health improved only after the conclusion
of parliamentary elections in May.
When court resumed, the State's prosecution team
of three was joined by Koriun Piloyan who made
a motion to shorten the witness list to those
who have already been questioned.
The prosecution argued that testimony concerning
possible conspirators in the October 27 incident
is part of the "abstract" portion of
the case and that the remaining witnesses have
bearing only on the killings and do not provide
evidence of a conspiracy.
The list of witnesses contains 129 names, only
28 of whom have testified. The judge ruled in
favor of the prosecution.
Relatives of Sargsyan and Demirchyan and the
widow of assassinated Vice Speaker Yuri Bakhshyan
are against the judge's decision.
"It is a political decision. The court had
been preparing that decision during the whole
six month period, when the trial was paused,"
says Anahit Bakhshyan who left court room and
said she will never return.
Demirchyan family attorney Ashot Sargsyan is
highly dissatisfied with the ruling to not call
any more witnesses. He says that in accordance
with the indictment of the Military Prosecutor's
Office all those 129 witnesses were involved as
witnesses to the incident, and not as part of
Ashot Sargsyan motioned the court to invite dozens
of witnesses. The court, however, agreed to invite
only five more witnesses.
After discussing those developments, the Demirchyan
family decided to withdraw its participation in
"I agree with those assuring me that in
reality this trial is a farce," Ashot Sargsyan
said. "Physical presence is senseless when
you know the case and try to render multilateral
assistance to the court so that it could carry
out an objective investigation, and then run upon
The prosecution called Ashot Sargsyan's boycott
"short-sighted" and Judge Uzunyan said
the boycott was probably planned before his ruling.
Sargsyan returned to court Thursday to begin
his closing argument.
Vazgen Sarsyan's family says it has no intention
of boycotting the remainder of the trial.
"I've initially said that the trial has
been ordered by authorities, and it takes place
in accordance with their scenario," said
brother of the murdered Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan
(who himself succeed his brother and briefly held
the republic's second-highest office).
Aram Sargsyan says that government authorities
are not inclined toward an objective trial. Future
witnesses, he says, could have added valuable
For his part, Hunanyan agrees with the court
decision to stop witnesses' questioning but only
with one exception. He wanted Kocharyan's former
advisor and current chairman of the Board of Directors
of Armenian Public Television and Radio Alexan
Harutyunyan. (Harutyunyan was initially arrested
in connection with the case, but was released
after a few months. He currently holds the appointment
previously held by Naghdalyan.) The court rejected
Hunanyan also made a statement concerning testimonies
in the Naghdalyan case. He said that on the night
of October 27 he had a conversation with Naghdalyan,
about which he hasn't yet spoken.
After two and a half years of proceedings, Hunanyan
may have managed to instill a bit of intrigue
into the trial with the hint of Naghdalyan's involvement.
Still, after nearly three years neither the public
nor the court seems closer to answering the only
question that remains when there is videotaped
evidence of guilt:
Did Hunanyan et. al. act on their own volition,
or were they part of a conspiracy?