courtrooms have followed the sensational
The trial in the murder of journalist Tigran Naghdalyan has intensified,
with sessions now being held four days a week.
Five of 13 defendants have been
questioned so far. (Click here
to read previous reports.)
This week, defendant Gegham Shahbazyan, testified
that he had met with Liova Harutyunyan, whose child is the god-son of Armen Sargsyan.
Sargsyan is the brother of slain Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan, and has been
accused of ordering the killing of Naghdalyan, allegedly offering $75,000 to have
the journalist killed.
Shahbazyan told the court about his meeting with
Harutyunyan in a room where photographs of Vazgen Sargsyan hung and where every
day Harutyunyan lit candles to the Prime Minister's memory.
Shahbazyan's testimony . . .
Harutyunyan said: "What should I do to
take revenge for Sparapet (Vazgen Sargsyan)?" And then he addressed Shahbazyan:
"Can you bring people from Karabakh so that they could kill one of the organizers
of the October 27 incident, Tigran Naghdalyan?"
Harutyunyan accused Naghdalyan of providing guns
and floor passes for Nairy Hunanyan and his gang,
who entered Parliament and killed the Prime Minister
and seven others on October 27, 1999.
To have Naghdalyan killed, Harutyunyan offered to sell his small
restaurant for $30,000.
Shahbazyan: "What if they (the killers) want
to have cash money?"
Harutyunyan: "Okay, if I'm in trouble with
money then I'll ask my godfather (Armen Sargsyan) for money."
Is it your godfather, who wants (the killing)?"
I want it."
A few days later Harutyunyan changed his mind and told
Shahbazyan to forget about their conversation.
Later, Shahbazyan met with
Hovhannes "Aper" Harutyunyan (a relative of the Sargsyans) and told
him about Liova Harutyunyan's offer, and added that there were people who would
commit the murder for $50,000.
A few days later Aper told Shahbazyan: "Do
it. I'll take care of it."
Between September and the day of the murder,
December 28, Aper spent about $10,000 on provisions for Shahbazyan, defendant
Felix Arustamyan and John Harutyunyan, of Martuni Karabakh, who has confessed
to killing Naghdalyan.
But after the murder, when no more money had been
paid, Shahbazyan asked about getting the money and Aper told him that Armen Sargsyan
would come up with the money.
Shahbazyan relayed that information to Liova
Harutyunyan. Harutyunyan talked to Sargsyan and
Sargsyan said he didn't know about any such arrangement.
told Aper about this discrepancy and continued to ask for the promised money.
On December 30 together they went to Sargsyan's house. Aper entered the house
and after returning he gave $25,000 to Shahbazyan.
"Why should Sargsyan
pay the money?", a prosecutor asked Shahbazyan.
"I don't know
what Aper had told him," Shahbazyan answered. "I haven't understood
this part up to now."
Answering different questions of the accuser
whether Armen Sargsyan ordered the murder, Gegham Shahbazyan never gave a positive
Gegham Shahbazyan and Hovhannes "Aper" Harutyunyan met
two years ago, and cooperated on various deals together. And from time to time
Harutyunyan lent money to Shahbazyan. According to Shahbazyan, the relationship
was substantial enough for "Aper" to entrust the murder of Naghdalyan
Defendant Grigor Petrosyan, who is accused of assisting in commission
of the murder, mentioned in the court that he was in financial dependence on Aper,
who from time to time lent money to Petrosyan.
For his part, Petrosyan admits
partial guilt, saying that he gave two guns to Shahbazyan that he'd gotten from
Aper. Petrosyan said he knew they were going to kill a journalist and that he
tried to persuade them that it was not good to kill someone for money but he couldn't
prevent the murder.
"My part was to listen, if I were deaf then I
wouldn't be here," Petrosyan stated in court, then he refused to give any
According to the testimonies given by Petrosyan during
the preliminary investigation, Hovhannes Harutyunyan agreed to commit Naghdalyan's
murder so that, the "Sargsyans' could accept him as a brave man of his word,
plus he could earn money."
It became clear from Shahbazyan's and Petrosyan's
testimonies that initially, a gang of Russians
had been ordered to kill Naghdalyan. That group
was given $50,000 advance payment, but disappeared
with the money without performing the crime. According
to published testimonies, Armen Sargsyan is implicated
in providing the money.
In court on Wednesday, Liova Harutyunyan, accused
of concealing a crime, refused to answer any questions, saying that he stands
by statements made in the preliminary investigation.
"I don't plead
myself guilty of concealment of the murder. I concealed none of the defendants
present here. I didn't give any clothes to anyone, I didn't feed anyone, I didn't
cover up any traces and I didn't assist and conduce to committing the crime. But
I'm guilty that in the beginning of January 2003 I knew from Gegham Shahbazyan
about perpetrators of the crime and didn't inform law-enforcement bodies about
During the record of the testimonies given at
the preliminary investigation Harutyunyan said
that he thought about informing law-enforcement
bodies about the crime and get $250,000 for that,
however, he was afraid of being stamped as a snitch.
Liova Harutyunyan says he was motivated by loyalty
to Vazgen Sargsyan and thought that the murder of Naghdalyan would avenge the
Prime Minister's death. He said that later he realized that he was wrong, and
gave up the idea.
Thursday and Friday's sessions were put off at the request
of Hovhannes Harutyunyan's lawyer, Hoctember Karamyan, who said he felt ill.
will resume on Tuesday with testimony from Hovhannes "Aper" Harutyunyan,
after which Armen Sargsyan is scheduled to testify.