Bodyguards Arrested in Markarian Murder Case

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Several Armenian parliament members reported Wednesday that two bodyguards accompanying slain deputy interior and nationals security minister Artsurn Markarian to his relatives’ house had been arrested. Markarian’s body was found Tuesday on the intersection of the Yerevan-Sevan highway.

Experts reported Wednesday that the deputy minister’s cause of death was determined to be a bullet lodged in his chest cavity.

Another bullet was discovered in his hear–barely passing his ear cavity–resembling an execution-style shot.

The bullets came from a Smith & Wesson hand gun–which was registered to Markarian–leading some to speculate that the death might have been a suicide.

Markarian’s friends and relatives stressed that the deputy minister was not involved in illicit financial dealings–adding that his lifestyle attested to his limited financial resources.

Armenian television–quoting information provided by the prosecutor general’s investigation unit–reported that Markarian left his office at 11 p.m. Monday and–driven by his bodyguards Arsen and Armen Khatchatrian–headed for his aunt’s house in New Hadjn.

On their way back from the outing–at around midnight–Markarian reportedly asked his drivers to stop the car on the intersection of the Yerevan-Sevan highway–"so he could relieve himself."

The bodyguards told investigators that Markarian was behaving strangely as he exited the car.

Markarian’s body was found–lying on his left side–at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday with the Smith & Wesson in the victim’s hand.

Investigators reported that the slugs were fired from the Simth & Wesson–and Markarian had gun powder residue on his right hand. Bullets were scattered around the murder site.

Armenian television was told that the prosecutor’s office was not ruling out suicide as the cause of Markarian’s death.

From 1989 to 1992 Markarian was a member of the self-defense forces of Armenia–under the command of former interior ministry forces commander Vahan Harutunian–who is currently in jail. Markarian’s brother–who served with him in the self-defense forces–was killed in combat. He had six children under his care–four of whom are his slain brother’s.

Markarian was gunned down Tuesday by unknown assailants–a spokesman for the Interior and Security Ministry said.

Markarian was no stranger to assassination plots. He was a target of a shooting on Jan. 21–1998–when he rushed to State Hospital No. 1 for emergency surgery after being fired on from a white BMW.

That incident reportedly took place near Markarian’s home. An unknown person twice fired at Markarian with an unidentified gun.

Days following this foiled assassination attempt–in a short statement for reporters at the hospital–Markarian said "I don’t want any individual or political party to politically exploit the incident."


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