- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 October 24, 2003 

Outside Eye: A non-Armenian's view of life in his adopted home

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 for speculation.

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 "took ill".

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 had concluded.

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?


According to Agnes
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  Photos of the week
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Surviving members of the legendary Ararat football team were reunited Friday October 24 for a match to mark the 30th anniversary of their Soviet league
championship and cup double-winning season in 1973. The team played an all-star former Soviet national side at Yerevan's Hrazdan stadium.



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