Top Defense Ministry Official Commits Suicide

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Prosecutors in Armenia’said they have launched an investigation into the death of a top defense ministry official who the ministry claims killed himself on Sunday to avoid charges of corruption and embezzlement.

Mavrik Avetisian–the chief of the defense ministry’s finance department–was found dead in his office on Sunday with a bullet in his head. A statement released by the ministry on Monday suggested that Avetisian committed suicide one day before military prosecutors were to conduct a check-up in his department to find evidence of alleged corruption cases.

The statement said the inquiry was part of a "large-scale crackdown on breaches of law–corruption and embezzlement of state funds" initiated by the defense minister and carried out by the office of military prosecutor. It said "dozens" of ministry officials have already been "called to account" but gave no details. Meanwhile–a spokesman from Armenia’s office of the prosecutor general told RFE/RL that law-enforcement agencies will try to identify "causes of the suicide," having already conducted a forensic examination in Avetisian’s office.

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