appeared self-confident and relaxed, flamboyant
Attention in the Tigran Naghdalyan murder trial
turned again to accused killer John Harutyunyan
and co-defendant Felix Arustamyan this week.
Armen Sargsyan, the brother of slain Prime Minister
Vazgen Sargsyan, is accused of ordering Naghdalyan's
murder (allegedly for $75,000). He was expected
to testify, however his testimony was postponed
when an isolation ward doctor confirmed that Sargsyan
is in bad health, suffering from stomach and kidney
In previous testimony Harutyunyan admitted killing
Naghdalyan, but has steadfastly denied knowing
Armen Sargsyan. In testimony this week, he held
"I didn't know Armen Sargsyan and I saw
Aram (Sargsyan's brother) only on TV. I only asked
Gegham (Shabazyan, who is accused of soliciting
Harutyunyan for the murder) if we are caught what
should I say. Gegham told us to say that we did
it for Vazgen Sargsyan," Hartuyunyan told
"I heard Armen Sargsyan's name only during
the investigation. Ghegam passed me an order to
commit the murder and as a person, who ordered
the murder, I heard only about Liova (Harutyunyan,
father of Armen Sargsyan's godson)."
It became clear from the questions asked by lawyer
Robert Grigoryan that before moving to Yerevan
John Harutyunyan had attempted suicide (by cutting
his wrists) in Karabakh. He confirmed that the
incident had been connected with Naghdalyan's
case, however, he became nervous and said he didn't
wish to talk about it.
Grigoryan: "What was Tigran Naghdalyan's
position when you shot at him?"
Harutyunyan: "I don't know. I don't remember."
Grigoryan: "Did he feel you were going to
Harutyunyan: "I was outside. He didn't see
me. It was dark. I shot and ran away. I thought
I had shot in his chest but I knew from TV he
was shot in the head."
Defendant Arustamyan also denied knowing Armen
Sargsyan, and stated that his participation in
the murder was arranged through Shabazyan. Further,
Arustamyan testified that when he was arrested
February 29 in his hometown of Martuni, Karabakh,
he didn't know what he was being arrested for.
"I thought I had been arrested for hunting,"
he said. "I learned about Naghdalyan's murder
in Yerevan." Arustamyan said that for five
days he was beaten by investigators, but he didn't
"Whatever they told me I said, yes, I did
that. Hashish, weapons. But they continued to
beat me. I signed everything they gave me. I signed
numerous documents but I didn't write a single
word myself," he stated.
During Thursday session defendant Gegham Shahbazyan
refused to answer Armen Sargsyan's questions,
mentioning that he sticks to the testimonies he
gave during the preliminary investigation. He
stated only: "I didn't know Armen Sargsyan
and I never talked to Armen Sargsyan."
Sargsyan, himself, was addressing questions prepared
beforehand to Shahbazyan. He appeared self-confident
and relaxed, flamboyant even. He expressed regret
that Shahbazyan was not going to answer his questions
and asked a few times: "Aren't you going
to change your mind?"
Shahbazyan just sat with his face lowered.
Armen Sargsyan: "Gegham, answer at least
one question as a man, have you ever visited my
home as you mentioned in your testimonies?"
Gegham Shahbazyan: "No, Armen-jan."
Armen Sargsyan: "As Aper testified both of
you were leaders of the murder's perpetrators.
Please, tell me yourself about your role, whether
Tigran was killed because you wanted to cover
However, these questions were not answered. It
also became clear from questions and testimony
that was read in court that Armen Sargsyan himself
had been the target of a murder plotted by the
Defendant Grigor Petrosyan mechanically answered
a few questions, appearing scared and near tears.
He said he is afraid of Armen Sargsyan.
"I don't know anything. What can I say,"
Petrosyan said. "I was confused that's why
I gave testimonies like that (in the investigation).
You know how it is to be in the prosecutor's office.
You will give testimonies even against your mother."
People started to laugh and Petrosyan sat, crossed
himself and began crying from time to time stealthily
looking at Sargsyan. His wife sitting in the court
room was also weeping.
Sargsyan's questions concerning testimonies given
by defendants revealed numerous discrepancies.
The court recorded the questions, but they were
Liova Harutyunyan also stuck to testimonies he
gave during preliminary investigation and sat
with his face hidden in his hands while Sargsyan
was asking his questions.
"Are your testimonies correct? Have we talked
about it? Did I promise to pay for Naghdalyan's
murder? When you told Shahbazyan if you have no
money you will ask you're your godfather, does
it mean that you have coordinated it with me?
If you didn't know my opinion why did you promise
Shahbazyan such things? Why was it so necessary
for you? Have I ever asked you who is Gegham?"
Hovhannes "Aper" Harutyunyan, who is
Sargsyan's distant relative and a key figure in
the case refused to answer any questions.
"In the isolation ward we were questioned
front to front and he (Armen Sargsyan) didn't
answer questions," Hovhannes Harutyunyan
said. "I'm also not going to answer questions."
"At that time Armen felt bad, he was sick,"
interjected Judge Saribek Aramyan.
"After getting better I informed the investigative
group that I was ready to give testimonies and
be questioned front to front but they didn't do
that," explained Sargsyan, who was sick since
the first days of being in isolation ward and
always has high temperature.
Most questions were addressed to Harutyunyan.
There were numerous discrepancies in the testimonies.
Sargsyan compared testimonies given by Shahbazyan,
Liova Harutyunyan and Hovhannes Harutyunyan, which
weren't simultaneous with each other -- neither
day, nor time, nor place, nor circumstances, under
which they met or discussed, coincided.
Attacking testimony that the other defendants
had discussed the killing with Armen Sargsyan
via cell phone in the Voskehat village, Sargsyan
pointed out that there is no cell phone service
in that Ararat region.
"Go to Armentel (the republic's phone provider)
and they will tell you about that," said
Today (Friday) Armen Sargsyan refused to give
testimony, instead he appealed to the court and
asked that his testimony of March 20 (given following
arrest five day earlier) be read in court.
His testimony was read, and a videotape was shown
of Sargsyan during interrogation.
Oddly, the prosecution had no questions for Sargsyan,
the main defendant.
here for previous stories on the case.