Interior Ministry Witness Retracts Testimony

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–At Thursday’s hearing of the so-called "Trial of 31," witness Norayr Vardanian–former company commander of the Interior Ministry forces–recanted statemen’s made during the preliminary investigation.

Following "Arapo" battalion commander Manvel Yeghiazarian’s arrest–Vardanian had said that someone dressed in a light-colored shirt started shooting from the first floor of Yeghiazarian’s house at national security agents first with a pistol and then with an automatic weapon.

The witness said during the hearing that he hadn’t seen any other weapon except a machine-gun at Yeghiazarian’s house. According to Vardanian–the machine-gun was firing only into the air–otherwise– at least thirty agents would have been killed. The witness also said that there were people dressed in police uniforms at the site–while some were disguised. Vardanian said that he had not been an acquaintance of Yeghiazarian’s as stated in earlier testimony.

The investigator–Vardanian said–had been distorting his testimony during the preliminary investigation. He did not–however–deny having signed the doctored document since "all those questioned did so."

Witnesses Vachik Kazarian–the uncle of Garnik Isagoulian’s wife–and Armen Barseghian–a member of the "Arapo" battalion–said they had not heard any talk of plotting a coup. According to Barseghian–there had been talk about the creation of a union of Afghan war veterans. "A person who sheds his blood for his Motherland can’t turn into a traitor," Barseghian said.

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