- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 October 31, 2003 

Pause for Thought: Political reflections on a Parliamentary crime


Closing arguments have begun in the trial of Nairi Hunanyan, accused of the October 27, 1999 killings in Parliament. ArmeniaNow correspondents Tamara Hovnatanyan and Anna Satyan asked deputies of the National Assembly (NA) to give their views of the proceedings. During these years, some have sat in the court room to follow the trial, others could not for fear they would be unable to control themselves on seeing the accused.

Grigor Harutyunyan, member of the administration of People's Party of Armenia, had been attending court sessions regularly for three years.

"Attending court sessions was an ordeal for me," says Harutyunyan. "Every time when I am in the court room I face stress. However, deputies must attend court sessions, if only so as to not allow the defendant to become more and more insolent."


"Me and lawyer Ashot Sargsyan, who represents the interests of Demirchyan's family, believe that the trial has turned into farce. The trial is now in the stage when it cannot be finished. Nevertheless, the trial draws to a close. It happened because the number of people summoned to court was sharply decreased. This was explained by the fact that the court has sufficient testimonies and new witnesses would only delay the trial. However, nobody was worried about delaying the trial when it was postponed for six months during the period of elections.

"When I consider Hunanyan's conduct I become convinced of only one thing, that there were other conspirators. But who? This question remains open."

Hrant Khachatryan, party-leader for the Union of Constitutional Right, believes that it was illogical to remove the part of the case concerning conspirators for supplementary investigation.

"Unfortunately, from the beginning it was clear for me that our judicial system wouldn't manage such a serious case. The system cannot at once, all of a sudden become better than the standards to which it got used to. When I hear what people say during the trial, I don't talk about lawyers as they are dependant people, they depend on those who hired them, I'm talking about prosecutors, people representing the authorities, I feel embarrassed about their professional level," says Khachatryan.

Victor Dallakyan, secretary of Ardarutiun (Justice) bloc, believes that not just politicians were shot in 1999 but national institutes.


"I negatively perceive the fact that several important witnesses, who flew abroad after October 27, were not summoned to court. And it makes me think that those people could possess information on the case," says Dallakyan.

Galust Sahakyan, leader of the Republican Party of Armenia fraction, hopes to get answers to questions bothering him at the end of trial.

"That day I was in Parliament and my two friends sitting next to me died. When I heard screams and cursing first I thought it was a joke or hoax. Immediately, the self-preservation instinct worked - to get out. I should say that the incident had its influence on the mentality and health of many deputies. It was hard especially for those who had stayed in the hall till the end and whose close friends had been killed."

Hmayak Hovhannisyan, member of the National Unity fraction, believes that both investigation and trial have turned into farce.

"There is a feeling that Nairi Hunanyan leads and controls the entire trial," he says. "Whoever Hunanyan points at that person is brought to responsibility. By the way I was the first person whom he pointed at and shouted out that day, 'why are you scared, you robbed nobody and you lied to nobody'. So we can make a conclusion that since the very first minute the murderer entrapped us into making wrong decisions by his shouts and statements."

Armen Rustamyan, member of the supreme body of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Dashnaktsutiun, believes that investigative authorities have a definite political disposition.

"I have a feeling that the court won't answer every question. However, I would like very much that there not be any doubts, especially concerning the question of whether or not there were conspirators in this incident. Some people have just privatized this case during this period, believing that only they have a right to talk about anything connected with the shooting in the Parliament and that only they are victims in this story. But who says that these political circles are not under suspicion if they declared themselves victims? The trial must be so transparent and truthful that all possibilities should be taken into consideration," believes Rustamyan.

"And now we afforded Hunanyan an opportunity to become a soloist. By politicizing the trial we gave him all possibilities."

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This week Armenia was commemorating the fourth anniversary of October 27 terroristic act in Armenian parliament and paying tribute to its victims. Among others Stepan Demirchyan visited the cemetery and laid flowers on the grave of his father, late speaker of National Assembly Karen Demirchyan.



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