Oct. 27 Killings May Be Coup Bid Says Prosecutor

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Prosecutors investigating the October 27 attack on the Armenian parliament are close to a conclusion that it was an attempt to stage a coup d’etat–it was announced on Wednesday.

"According to our preliminary evaluations–it was an attempt to seize power," chief military prosecutor Gagik Jahangirian–who leads the investigation–declared to reporters. He added that five gunmen who killed Armenia’s former prime minister–parliament speaker and other top officials as well as other individuals arrested in connection with the bloody attack may soon face new charges.

"At the final stage of the investigation we will probably revise the charges leveled against accused individuals and make some changes in their definitions," he said.

Jahangirian had said before that the investigators are considering "a dozen" hypotheses about circumstances leading to the killings. This was the first time he unveiled their preliminary conclusion. He claimed on Wednesday that the killings were part of a single "scenario" planned before the attack but did not elaborate on who was behind it. In his words–"part of the scenario was carried out–while other parts were not." The gang led by former journalist Nairi Hunanian was given "false promises" in return for attacking the chamber–Jahangirian said without elaborating

A total of 17 men have been arrested so far on charges of involvement in the bloodbath. Among them are an aide to President Robert Kocharian and a deputy director of Armenian state television. According to Jahangirian–more arrests of government officials will likely be made soon. "I don’t rule out arrests of one or two other officials," he said–refusing to give names.

The most recent arrest have fueled accusations that Jahangirian’s team is manipulating the case to use it against opponents of Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan–the slain premier’s brother–and the influential Yerkrapah Union of Karabakh war veterans. Some Yerkrapah leaders–among them senior army commanders–demanded Kocharian’s resignation shortly after the parliament attack. Kocharian last month added to doubts about the impartiality of the investigation with a remark that he is "not certain" that those accused of involvement are not mistreated in custody.

The state-run Armenian National Television run by a Kocharian ally has harshly criticized the investigators since last week’s arrest of its deputy director Harutiun Harutiunian. The unprecedented verbal attacks on Jahangirian from ANT have angered some government members and the parliament majority loyal to Sargsyan.

Kocharian’s press secretary Vahe Gabrielian acknowledged on Wednesday that ANT’s latest coverage of the affair has been "emotional,"tendentious" and "unacceptable." Commenting on the investigation–Gabrielian said: "We expect the investigating group to do its best to solve the case as soon as possible–and present to the court with compelling evidence."

He also told reporters that Jahangirian "periodically reports to the president on the course of the investigation." Jahangirian–for his part–noted that the prosecutors inform Kocharian of only those details of the case which "we deem necessary."

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