Police Refuse To Prosecute Harsnakar Owner Over Beating Death

Harsnakar owner Ruben Hayrapetian

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia’s police reaffirmed their refusal to prosecute businessman Ruben Hayrapetian in connection with a deadly assault at a Yerevan restaurant owned by him, a lawyer said on Wednesday.

The two lawyers representing the family of Vahe Avetian, a military doctor who was beaten to death at the Harsnakar restaurant on June 17, petitioned police investigators to formally treat the influential tycoon as a suspect in the high-profile case.

One of the attorneys, Tigran Yegorian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the petition has been rejected. He said the investigators have also refused to transcribe Hayrapetian’s phone conversations during the incident that were recorded by mobile phone operators.

The police have faced calls from opposition members, civic activists and some media to prosecute Hayrapetian ever since Avetian and two of his colleagues were beaten up by restaurant staff in still unclear circumstances. They claim that the notoriously bad-tempered tycoon, who has strong connections in the government, may have personally ordered the assault.

Hayrapetian has strongly denied such allegations, while accepting his “moral” responsibility for the incident that shocked many Armenians. He resigned as parliament deputy representing the ruling Republican Party of Armenia shortly after Avetian died in hospital later in June.

Hayrapetian was questioned by the police as a potential witness in early July. Arsen Ayvazian, a high-ranking police official overseeing the inquiry, said afterwards that the investigators have no evidence of his involvement.

Six men are currently under arrest pending trial on charges stemming from the beatings. Most of them worked as security guards at the restaurant. Their trial is expected to start soon.

Yegorian on Wednesday reiterated his strong criticism of the police inquiry, saying that it has been deeply flawed. He said that the police have examined only some transcripts of the arrested suspects’ phone calls. He said they have also inexplicably failed to question anyone over a phone call that was made by one of the suspects to a fixed-line number registered in the name of Hayrapetian’s father.

“This gives us reason to have serious suspicions,” added the lawyer. “Elementary questions have not been directed to witnesses and suspects, including Ruben Hayrapetian.”


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  1. Aram said:

    As long as jerks and criminals as him and those in government who themselves are criminals support him Armenia will never be a true democracy and progress. It is time for us Armenians to stop kidding ourselves by rationalizing that it a period of transition from communism to democracy. Justice, equality, opportunity for all the people of Armenian is not part of the Armenian vocabulary in Armenia, wake up and smell the coffee.

  2. Tsayt said:

    Ruben Hayrapetian, oligarch par excellence, probably has a long list of incriminating evidence on a whole lot of high-up individuals thus guarantying a teflon working (read: stealing) conditions. This is how “oligarchs” (read: criminals) operate in a corrupt system.

  3. Avetis said:

    As much as our naive believers in the “democracy” fairytale may wish it wasn’t so, the post-Soviet capitalist in question had nothing to do with the actual crime. Those that did were in fact arrested and they will be going to jail for a long time. Now, knowing this, I simply ask you Captain America’s to please go back to sleep…

  4. ani said:

    Raffi, how? As long as these criminals are owning our country there won’t be justice and law. Period. Yes, we need to wake up, but unfortunately our nation is sleeping. Only three hundred people came to show respect for Vahe’s forty days of passing. In this area we have over hundred thousand people. Shame on us that we are tolerating these inhumane, and corrupt thieves to rule our country and people. This situation is extremely humiliating as a human being. That is the reason people are leaving the country. I hope it is not going to be too late.