- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 January 23 , 2004 

The Naghdalyan Case: Verdict of first court stands

Supporters of Sargsyan expressed their displeasure..

Armenia's Court of Appeal has upheld a lower-court decision that found Armen Sargsyan guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in the case of the chairman of Armenian Public Television Tigran Naghdalyan. Sargsyan is sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the murder which took place December 28, 2002.

Sargsyan, brother of slain Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan, has maintained his innocence, and was supported by onlookers in court, who sat down in protest while the verdict was read.

As the verdict was being read, members of the oppositional Hanrapetutiun party shouted "It's a lie", before sitting in protest.

"One must stand when the verdict is read," a judge said, interrupting the reading of the verdict and addressing Sargsyan's supporters. "You have no right to speak on behalf of the Republic of Armenia. One must stand only when the legal verdict is read," they replied.

In an extremely strained and fully-packed courtroom, emotions spilled over into accusations.

"The judicial power of the country is under direct influence of authorities and our legislation permits that," says Zaruhi Postanjyan, attorney for Felix Arustamyan, one of five defendants in the appeal.

As with the first verdict, neither side left satisfied.

Naghdalyan's legal beneficiary Karine Naghdalyan again complained that sentences were too lenient.

In restating his innocence, Sargsyan told the court that when on March 7, 2003 he was invited to the Prosecutor's Office as a witness, by that time prosecutors had already had all evidence necessary for his arrest. However, they didn't arrest him that day (he was arrested on March 15) and set him free giving him his passport so that he could have left Armenia.

"It wouldn't be difficult for me to leave the country as I have Schengen visa in my passport," Sargsyan said.

Sargsyan also challenged the court ruling, claiming that he was convicted on the testimony of a relative, Hovhannes Harutyunyan, who "contradicted himself 123 times."

One defendant, John Harutyunyan, lashed out at Karine Naghdalyan's accusation that people who killed her brother were "traitors". She has maintained that the men responsible for Tigran Naghdalyan's death were treated softly because they are veterans of the Karabakh war.

"Karine Naghdalyan uses the word 'traitor' very often. I am not a traitor," Harutyunyan said. "Just the contrary, I killed a traitor. I killed him humanely, the murder was not committed cruelly. The money that was earned at the expense of blood, I divided among men who were shedding blood in Karabakh when her brother was driving a Jeep and having fun."

Sargsyan's brother, Aram Sargsyan, leader of the Hanrapetutiun party joined the rhetoric claiming that his brother's verdict was politically motivated.

"We tried to prove that Armen Sargsyan is innocent and we did that in two courts while authorities, having influence on prosecutor's office, judges and even some defendants, cannot prove the opposite," Aram Sargsyan said.

According to Agnes
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