| The killings took
only a few minutes, but in some ways Armenia is
still recovering from wounds inflicted four years
ago next Monday when five idiots pretending to be
revolutionaries shot up parliament.
Every shot fired by Nairy Hunanyan and his gang
of four was captured on videotape as men of power
became point-blank targets. Television cameras
brought images of pitiful bloodied corpses crumpled
on the very floor where years later legislation
abolishing the death penalty passed against the
objections of lawmakers turned revenge seekers.
Every shot that killed eight and wounded four;
every shot that became metaphorical flesh wounds
for an already scarred republic can be viewed
over and over and over still, making easy work
for even a freshman prosecutor.
There is no question of guilt. Yet the trial
of Hunanyan et. al. is only now starting to wind
down after two and a half years of absurd theater
masquerading as litigation.
It would be almost acceptable if the conclusion
solved the riddle to which the people of Armenia
are entitled to an answer. They know the "who"
(although some still ask "who else?"),
and the "how", but not the "why".
Whether the reason is judicial ineptitude or
clever lawyering, this trial of two centuries
is likely to close without that answer.
Some believe there is a conspiracy behind not
revealing the conspiracy. It's an Armenian story
among a people who look for conspiracy behind
why the sun rises.
But the way this trial has been conducted and
events that might be seen as related, give conspiracy
theorists more than the usual amount of fodder
Maybe I've been in Armenia too long, but I'm
starting to see why the public becomes annoyed
if not down-right repulsed by how its entrusted
government bodies perform.
Only two examples from the Hunanyan trial serve
as apology for skepticism.
First: With the trial likely to become ammunition
for the Opposition in last winter's presidential
election, how convenient was it that the judge
in the trial took ill a week before official campaigning
began, causing the trial to be suspended?
Seems that the judge sufficiently and coincidently
recovered just about the time the election runoff
ended. But, just when the trial could have proceeded
and coincidently just before campaigning began
for parliamentary elections one of the defendants
Defendant Vram Galstyan says he never complained
once about a heart ailment. But a government-paid
doctor says the defendant was suffering too bad
to continue the trial. So it was suspended for
another three months until Galstyan was well again
- coincidently just after the parliamentary elections
Second: Many have claimed that the chairman of
the board of directors of Armenian Public Television
and Radio, Tigran Naghdalyan - a potential witness
in the case - held information that might point
the conspiracy finger in a direction damaging
to the current Government.
Naghdalyan was shot to death last December. His
post - appointed by the President - was filled
by Alexan Harutyunyan, former advisor to the President,
who was initially arrested on charges connected
to the parliament killings, but was released after
a few months. Maybe it's just my cockeyed view
of career ladder climbing, but I just can't see
how "arrested in connection with the assassination
of eight government officials" fits on a
resume for State service.
Finally, now that the trial has limped along
for two and a half years with few significant
discoveries, and now that, coincidentally, two
elections have been completed, the state team
wants to wrap it up in a hurry.
In two and a half years they managed to examine
only 28 of 129 witnesses and now they decide that
information held by 101 of those witnesses just
doesn't matter, so they asked the judge to shorten
the witness list to 28. The judge said okay, and
faster than you can say "political expedience"
the case is now in closing argument.
Here's a closing argument: Don't the people of
this republic deserve behavior that lessens skepticism
and encourages belief in its government?