Prosecutor Indicts Parliamentarian for Terrorism; Parliament Lifts Immunity

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–In the aftermath of the Oct. 27 siege on parliament–the mysteries surrounding the individuals involved in the murders continued to unfold Wednesday–as Armenia’s Prosecutor General Aghvan Hovsepian indicted National Assembly member Moushegh Movsissian with aiding and abetting the five gunmen who stormed the building and subsequently killed Armenia’s prime minister Vazgen Sargsyan.

In a vote of 90 to 0 and six abstentions–the National Assembly on Wednesday voted to lift Movsissian’s parliamentary immunity and he was hauled to prison–where he will remain until the trial–which promises to be one of the biggest judicial challenges in Armenia.

Hovsepian told parliament that the state’s preliminary investigation revealed that Movsissian was involved in masterminding the terrorist attack on the parliament with Nairi Hounanian and four others who actually staged the siege.

"On Nov. 6 parliament member Moushegh Movsissian was arrested on charges stemming from an criminal investigation which began following the Oct. 27 terrorist attack in the National Assembly chamber–headed by Nairi Hounanian and others. The parliamentary leadership was kept abreast of the prosecutor’s actions," reported Hovsepian who went on to detail some of the aspects of the case against Movsissian.

"The criminal investigation provided ample evidence to suggest that parliamentarian Moushegh Movsissian was involved in the plotting and execution of the Oct. 27 terrorist attack on parliament," detailed Hovsepian.

The prosecutor went on to stress that around March or April of this year Movsissian was introduced to Hounanian through Missak Mgrtchian–another assailant arrested for the terrorist plot. From the onset of their relationship–Hovsepian reported–Movsissian and Hounanian formed a consensus regarding their views and ideas regarding Armenia’s political situation.

The two–Hovsepian continued–expressed dissatisfaction with the late Vazgen Sargsyan–who at the time was Armenia’s defense minister. They held Sargsyan solely responsible for the country’s socio-political situation. Hovsepian said–Movsissian was specifically discontent with Sargsyan since the latter had allegedly forced to former to withdraw his candidacy during the 1995 parliamentary elections.

The prosecutor reported that Movsissian had exclaimed that "everything will fall into place with the physical annihilation of Vazgen Sargsyan."

Hovsepian detailed that the investigation and testimony provided by Hounanian and others pointed to Movsissian’s involvement in the plot not as a mere participant–but rather a leader–because throughout his conversation with Hounanian–Movsissian allegedly urged Hounanian to form a covert group and carry out the plot to murder Sargsyan at a juncture when he and other government officials were in the National Assembly.

The indictment also stated that a week before the actual attack–Hounanian receive the green light from Movsissian–who had also ensured that no one would be prosecuted for the crime. Movsissian also suggested that a hostage standoff would allow the group enough time to announce a change in leadership.

The presumption that the Movsissian plotted and led the attack against the parliament was addressed during Hounian’s testimony and during a face-to-face meeting between the two. Hounian’s brother Karen and Edik Grigorian–another assailant charged with terrorism also attested to Movsissian’s involvement in the plot.

In an impassioned speech to his parliamentary colleagues–following the indictment–Movsissian called all the argumen’s made by the prosecutor general a "barefaced lie," pointing out that he was simply a casual acquaintance of Nairi Hounanian–adding that he saw him in August. He urged his colleagues to form a deputy group to conduct an unbiased investigation into the case. Movsissian assured the Parliament members that if any evidence of his involvement in the crime is obtained–he is ready to bear responsibility.

Movsissian was guarded by police throughout the session and was escorted from the National Assembly by armed guards.

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