a new courtroom where the accused does not get caged, John Harutyunyan (black
shirt) stood to plead his case.
The trial of
murdered journalist Tigran Naghdalyan resumed Tuesday, with defendant John Harutyunyan
again denying that Armen Sargsyan had anything to do with Harutyunyan's killing
Harutyunyan, 32, of Martuni Karabakh was arrested February 27
for illegal possession of a firearm. On March 2 he confessed that he had murdered
Naghdalyan and signed a statement.
But in court Tuesday, Harutyunyan said
his written confession was a lie.
"I said 'Ok, if I'm already here
then I'll do the time for the both crimes'," explained John Harutyunyan answering
the question asked by lawyer Robert Grigoryan.
The penalty for the gun-possession
charge is imprisonment of up to three years. Grigoryan asked Harutyunyan if he
was aware that murder carried a death penalty. Harutyunyan did not answer.
television journalist Naghdalyan was shot to death last December 28 outside his
parents' home in Yerevan. At the time of his death he was chairman of the board
of directors of the Public Television and Radio of Armenia, a post appointed by
President Robert Kocharyan.)
A defendant facing conspiracy charges, Felix
Arustamyan, testified that he and Harutyunyan was offered money to take the blame
for Naghdalyan's death.
"John assumes responsibility for murder because
we were promised that if we (confessed to the crime) then we would get $250,000,"
Arustamyan said. "And after doing time in jail for eight years we would get
Arustamyan, 28, further commented on the unlikelihood of
Hartunyunyan's guilt, based on the accused killer's gunmanship.
even doesn't know how to shoot," Arustamyan said. "We have been hunting
together for five years and I know his skills." (Naghdalyan was killed by
a single shot to the head fired at close range from a "TT" pistol.)
13 defendants charged with complicity in the crime is Armen Sargsyan, brother
of slain Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan, one of the victims of the October 1999
killings in Parliament.
Armen Sargsyan is accused of having ordered Naghdalyan's
death and allegedly offering $75,000 to have the murder carried out.
the beginning of the court session a video tape of Harutyunyan's interrogation
was shown, in response to a motion by Grigoryan, Armen Sargsyan's attorney.
the tape, Harutyunyan is heard admitting that he killed Naghdalyan.
concedes that he confessed to the murder. But he denies the content of a written
statement he signed, which says claiming that he was hired by Sargsyan to kill
"Whatever I had written during the investigation is a lie,"
Harutyunyan said several times during the session. "But I insist that video
tape tells the truth and whatever I was saying there is truth as well. But I reject
my written testimonies."
In the videotape, investigators mention the
Sargsyan family and question whether Harutyunyan had been associated with them.
His answers were vague.
But during the preliminary investigation in Stepanakert,
he told detectives that Gegham Shahbazyan said that Sargsyan had ordered Naghdalyan's
murder, and that the journalist be killed before the end of last year.
court Tuesday Grigoryan asked Harutyunyan: "Who was the person who provided
you with information on Naghdalyan's murder?"
don't know Armen Sargsyan; I was not acquainted with him. I had a conversation
with Gegham Shahbazyan." (Click here
for a previous story outlining the details of that meeting.)
"Why have you committed the crime?"
Harutyunyan: "I don't
Grigoryan: "What do you know about the crime?"
"I don't remember."
Grigoryan: "Who ordered the murder?"
"I have no idea."
Grigoryan: "Who was to give you money after
Harutyunyan: "Gegham Shahbazyan."
Sargsyan's attorney says the case lacks grounds, on the basis that there is no
documentation of the investigation of Harutyunyan in Karabakh.
also stated that before being brought to Yerevan he was beaten by investigators
in Karabakh. He said he expected the same treatment in Yerevan and that is why
he signed a confession.
Arustamyan, who is accused of assisting the murder,
rejected written statements attributed to him and used as evidence from the preliminary
investigation, saying that he cannot read or write in Armenian.
to the prosecution, that the motive for Naghdalyan's murder was revenge by Armen
Sargsyan because he believed Naghdalyan was somehow connected to the parliament
"Everything that I've written about revenge is a lie. What
revenge can there be? Gegham ordered the murder," he said.
said that Gegham Shahbazyan promised $30,000 and later $50,000 for the murder.
However 10 days before the murder Gegham said that Liova Harutyunyan (Armen Sargsyan's
god-child, and who allegedly was to deliver the money) had refused to take part
in this case.
According to Arustamyan, Shahbazyan said: "Go and kill
him. After the murder I know how to get money. There is a man, who will visit
Liova's godfather (Armen Sargsyan) and that man knows what to tell him to get
money from him."
Apparently surprised by Arustamyan's testimony, Armen
Sargsyan's lawyers asked Judge Saro Aramyan for a recess.
on Friday in a circus atmosphere created when Arustamyan refused to answer the
prosecution's question because he said he wanted an attorney not appointed by
What disrupted court, however, was when Arustamyan said he wanted
to be represented by Hovik Arsenyan, an attorney from Armen Sargsyan's defense
After a half-hour animated discussion between the prosecution and
the defense, the judge called for a recess. After another half hour, court resumed
with Arsenyan saying there were obvious reasons why he could not represent both
Armen Sargsyan and Arustamyan.
The trial is expected to resume Tuesday.
week the trial was moved to the Court of First Instance of Avan and Nork communities.
It is the second could building reconstructed by World Bank financing, and the
second to dispense with using cages for holding defendants.