Armenia’s Deputy Defense Minister Assassinated

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenia’s Deputy Defense Minister Vahan Khorkhoruni was assassinated overnight. His body was found at 1:06 a.m. in the entrance of his own house. Reaching the place–police found seven cartridge-cases and one bullet.

The Republican Prosecutor’s Office was placed in charge of the investigation.

The Prosecutor’s Office released an official statement in connection with the 47-year-old official. It said that Khorkhoruni was killed with several gun shots on the night of December 10–at about 12:30 a.m. at the entrance of his own house located in Charents Street.

An investigation has been initiated and forces of the Ministry of Interior and National Security have been assigned to the case.

President Robert Kocharian met Thursday with Prosecutor General Aghvan Hovsepian–deputy Interior and National Security Ministers Gorik Hakopian and Rudik Hovakimian.

The president ordered an immediate probe into the killing and called on law enforcement officials to take every possible measure to uncover the Khorkhoruni’s assassins.

"It would be wrong to provide any commen’s regarding the assassination of the Deputy Defense Minister Vahan Khorkhoruni–while the investigation is still going on," presidential advisor for public relations Gasia Apkarian told Noyan Tapan. "At present we can only express our deep grief and condolences to the family of the victim," she added.

The murder was the second of a high-ranking government official in five months. State Prosecutor Henrik Kachatryan was killed on August 6.

Earlier–on June 28 1998–chief of the financial department of the Defense Ministry Mavrik Avetissian committed a suicide.

Aram Sargsyan–a top aide to Kocharian–told Reuters news service by telephone the motives for the killing were still unknown–but added the blame fell on law enforcement agencies for failing to solve previous high profile murder cases over the past few years.

"Those who ordered the killing think they can remain unpunished," he said.

The vice-speaker of the National Assembly and head of the "Yerkrapah" parliamentary caucus Albert Bazeyan was not inclined to attach a political context to the deputy defense minister’s murder.

He said there were no representatives of political forces in the Defense Ministry. In a briefing on Thursday Bazeyan advised all to wait until law enforcement officials presented their findings.

Bazeyan also disagreed with reports of unhealthy political atmosphere within the defense ministry as the cause for last summer’s suicide of the head of the financial and budgetary department of the Defense Ministry Mavrik Avetissian.

Bazeyan stressed that Khorkhoruni’s murder was not connected with internal political strife inside the ministry

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