Witness Testimony Points Finger at Former Regime

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Witness testimony continued Thursday in the Armen-Ter Sahakian case–with former investigation head of the interior ministry Vladimir Grigorian testifying that on June 2–1992 an assassination attempt against his life was carried out by the so-called group led by main defendant Ter-Sahakian.

Grigorian called the situation under the previous regime "a total terrorist atmosphere," since the former authorities were lead by the notion that "Whoever is not with us must go buried."

Grigorian cited a September 1992 presidential decree–based on which he said–"who would have imagined that structure would be created within the Interior Ministry which would undertake orders for murder."

He added that since being named chief inspector in 1993–he began to understand the illegalities which were taking place within the Interior Ministry. These included–fake criminal charges among them he cited criminal proceedings against former trade minister Tigran Grigoryan.

The former chief inspector–who is currently a prosecutor in the Malatia-Sebastian district–explained that he escaped his own assassination plot–simply because of circumstances. He was late in leaving his residence–which gave his neighbors the opportunity to spot suspicious people walking around the building.

The assassination attempt was undertaken the following day–on June 2–1994–but his driver and he escaped the attempt due to "calculations and God’s help," he said.

The witness recounted an interview he gave to the Russian-language Golos Armenii newspaper–in which he publicly told then president Levon Ter-Petrosyan that his interior minister "is a criminal and murderer." To this–the presidential spokesperson responded by accusing Grigorian of earning "political dividends."

Grigorian said that the plot to assassinate him was aimed at weakening the prosecutor’s office and make it accountable to the interests of the authorities.

Also testifying Thursday was the son of former railway chief Hambartsoum Ghandilian–Karlen. He said that his father was assassinated [May 3–1993] because he refused to take part in the authorities plans to loot republic’s fuel supplies–as planned by the "higher ups."

According to Karlen Ghandilian–his father allegedly told a meeting of government officials–one week before his murder–that the plan to loot fuel supplies would go on "over my dead body."

Another witness–Hovig Hovhannesian told the court that on January 29–1998 his car was stolen. The automobile later surfaced at Ter-Sahakian’s summer home in Dzoraghbyur the same day–when Ter-Sahakian and his group were arrested.

During the Wednesday court session representatives of the victims in Armen Ter-Sahakian case provided testimony.

Harutiun Sukiassian–brother of the late head of the Ashtarak Town Executive Committee Hovhannes Sukiassian–who was murdered on September 18–1992–told the court about the events preceding the murder. He had heard about the events from his brother.

According to Harutiun Sukiassian–Armenian Revolutionary Federation member Hovhannes Sukiassian was invited to meet with then Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosyan immediately after being elected head of the Ashtarak Town Executive Committee in 1991. Ter-Petrosyan–in the presence of Vano Siradeghian and Babken Ararktsian expressed his dissatisfaction at Sukiassian’s "routing the Armenian National Movement" and "seizing power."

Thereafter–Rev. Husik Lazarian–then Armenian National Movement Board chairman–sent a delegation to Hovhannes Sukiassian–offering him to "take our [ANM’s] side" and promising a ministerial post. He warned Sukiassian that in case of a refusal there will be "a bad end."

Harutiun Sukiassian testified that Vano Siradeghian sent soldiers to visit his brother and demand that he resign. Two days before the murder the same demand was made by another group of four persons led by Armen and Samvel (probably Armen Ter-Sahakian and Samvel Gevorgian)–who stopped Hovhannes Sukiassian’s car.

Harutiun Sukiassian urged the defendants not to take the entire blame upon themselves and not "shield Vano Siradeghian–Samvel Gevorgian and Rev. Husik Lazarian–believing their false promises."

Meruzhan Abramian–brother of Hovhannes Sukiassian’s murdered driver Varuzhan Abramian–told the court about the same events he had heard about from his brother.

Oleg Isahakian also testified. He is the son of major-general Georgy Isahakian–who was murdered along with the then head of the Armenian Railroad Department Hambartsum Ghandilian in his car on May–3 1993. Isahakian testified that Ghandilian’s driver died in the hospital after the attack. But before he was taken to the hospital–the bewildered Ghandilian remained in his car–and "his lips were still moving."

Razmik Avetissian testified that on September 14–1992 his car was hijacked by a young man in sports clothes. The car–which was later used during the murder of Hovhannes Sukiassian–was found burnt down in the Hrazdan canyon. Avetissian claimed a financial damage of $3000. He identified the defendant Israel Sargssian as the hijacker. The latter stated that he had not used violence against the victim.

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