appeared self-confident and relaxed, flamboyant
Armen Sargsyan, brother of the murdered Prime
Minister Vazgen Sargsyan, was called to testify
this week over his alleged involvement in the
killing of the head of Armenian Public Television.
Sargsyan, who is accused of ordering the murder
of Tigran Naghdalyan for $75,000, declined to
make a statement directly (YES?) but instead asked
the court to play a video recording of his interrogation
during preliminary investigations when he was
arrested in March.
In testimony given before his arrest on March
15, Sargsyan said he did not give money to his
distant relative Hovhannes "Aper" Harutyunyan,
who is a connecting link between Naghdalyan's
alleged killers and the person said to have ordered
On the video record played in court, Sargsyan
said he had known about Naghdalyan's murder for
the first time on December 28, 2002 from TV. Two
days later, he was surprised to receive a visit
from "Aper", whom he had not seen for
a long time.
"Aper" told Sargsyan that some goods
he had purchased from Beirut, Lebanon, were stuck
in Georgia and he needed $30,000 to get them through
customs. Sargsyan said initially that he did not
have such money, but later gave "Aper"
$25,000 and the latter promised to return it within
"Aper" visited Sargsyan's house again
during the New Year holidays, but they did not
discuss Naghdalyan's death. On January 15, Liova
Harutyunyan (father of Armen Sargsyan's godson)
visited Sargsyan's house and said that "Aper"
and Gegham Shahbazyan had been linked to the murder
of the journalist. He tried to find out from Sargsyan
whether he had promised to give money for this
killing through "Aper".
"When I heard that "Aper" had
something to do with that murder I was surprised
very much," said Sargsyan. He said he told
Liova, "let them go and take money from those
who ordered the murder."
After turning Liova Harutyunyan out of his house,
Sargsyan said he suspected that "Aper"
had taken money from him to pay the killers. "Aper"
came some time later to the Ararat Canning Factory
where Sargsyan worked and told him: "We must
give those people money so that they could leave
He allegedly told Sargsyan that the killers would
kill both him, Armen and his family unless they
paid. Sargsyan paid $15,000 and on February 28
he gave "Aper" an additional $35,000.
In the court, Sargsyan said that he had been
involuntarily involved in the affair principally
as a result of "Aper's" lie and then
as a consequence of blackmail.
He offered to answer any questions. But prosecutors
refused to cross-examine him, claiming they could
not see any discrepancies in Sargsyan's testimonies.
Only the victim's sister Karineh Naghdalyan addressed
questions to Sargsyan.
Naghdalyan - Do you think it is a fair
step and a display of bravery to pay $75,000 to
criminals and cover up the murder?
Sargsyan - I perfectly understand your
position because I've been through it for four
years. If I was about to order Naghdalyan's murder
then I would do that only in case he had given
testimonies on "27th" case or I was
not so stupid to order the murder without paying
for it in advance especially as I have money (Aram
Sargsyan shares the same opinion, "Armen's
watch costs $70,000 if he decided to order the
murder then he would give it at once," he
said). I'm not a coward but I had to pay and I
didn't think was it a bravery or not. I was taking
care of my family's safety and for that I was
ready to give as much money as they required.
I was worried especially about my brother (Aram
Sargsyan), who was in Yerevan and anything could
happen to him.
Naghdalyan - If you have so much money
why didn't you hire many bodyguards for ensuring
your family's security and solving that crime?
Sargsyan - Then how could I explain
it to my relatives. I would have never wished
them to be involved in this dirty affair, which
I had already become involved in. I didn't know
I would finish like this.
Naghdalyan - Then why after they were
arrested didn't you say who the murderers and
conspirators were? You think it is a fair deal?
Sargsyan - I didn't think proceedings
would be instigated for things I haven't done.
From the victim's perspective, yes, it's not a
fair deal. At the same time I couldn't give testimonies
against my relatives (meaning "Aper"
and father of his godson) without knowing the
core of the incident. You know, like you, I think
about all those who knew about Vazgen's murder
and didn't tell anything.
Hovhannes "Aper" Harutyunyan's lawyer,
Hoktember Karamyan, also questioned Sargsyan.
He expressed anger that investigators had shown
his client's testimony to Sargsyan during questioning.
Karamyan asked Sargsyan why he hadn't testified
at the beginning that "Aper" was threatening
him to get money from him.
Sargsyan said that he didn't think "Aper"
would testify against him. However, when the investigator
told him what "Aper" had said, he decided
to tell the truth.
Judge Aramyan asked one question: "What
was the reason that your relatives gave such testimonies
Sargsyan replied: "Liova Harutyunyan didn't
give testimony against me before April-May. His
first testimonies are more correct. In general,
all testimonies given before May are 75 per cent
true. I presume, but I won't tell, what made Liova
testify against me in May and say that I ordered
Karineh Naghdalyan also gave testimony. She said
that her brother was in the habit of visiting
his parents every day. At 18:30 on December 28,
he went to their second floor apartment on Zakyan
Street and left 30 minutes later. His father saw
him out of the apartment and turned on an outside
light to help him see the way down.
A few seconds after closing his door, the father
heard shooting and ran outside to find his son
covered with blood lying on the first floor staircase.
Together with his brother, they took Naghdalyan
to the nearest hospital, but doctors were unable
to save him.
Defendant John Harutyunyan, who confessed in
the court, that he had shot Tigran Naghdalyan
from the front, asked Karineh Naghdalyan what
doctors had told them when they were in hospital.
"We were not in a state to ask doctors questions,"
Harutyunyan was hinting at a forensic document
given by doctors at the hospital. Information
given to journalists about the victim's wounds
is included in the document, stating that Naghdalyan
was shot in the back and not from the front, as
Experts of forensic medicine will explain these
questions next week. The trial continues.
here for previous stories on the case.