World Scout Body Says TV Official Innocent

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A Geneva-based global scout association has expressed hope that one of its senior executives and a deputy director of Armenian state television arrested last week will soon be cleared of charges of complicity in recent shootings in the Armenian parliament.

The World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) said it believes that Harutiun Harutiunian is innocent–in a letter to President Robert Kocharian–a copy of which was faxed to RFE/RL.

Harutiunian who is the chairman of WOSM’s Eurasia Committee and a leader of the Armenian National Scout Organization (HASK). His arrest sparked controversy about prosecutors’ handling of the investigation into the October 27 killings of eight senior officials during a parliament session.

The letter signed by WOSM’s secretary general Jacques Moreillon said the organization has "total confidence in the integrity and innocence of Mr. Harutiunian–whom we have known well for years as a true Scout and loyal citizen."

"I do hope that the inquiries will soon demonstrate that our confidence is well placed and that Mr. Harutiunian–after having clarified whatever doubts may have been thrown on his name–will recover his freedom," Moreillon wrote. He said WOSM has no "intention to interfere in the internal affairs of Armenia."

The state television has subjected prosecutors investigating the killings to strong criticism since the arrest of its deputy director. Supporters of President Robert Kocharian and some opposition parties have accused them of manipulating the case to bully opponents of Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan.

The largest Unity faction in parliament loyal to the premier have hit back–accusing prosecutors’ critics of obstructing justice. The war of words took an unexpected turn on Wednesday when Kocharian warned through a spokesman that the state television run by his ally provides "tendentious" coverage of the criminal inquiry.

In another major development–chief military prosecutor Gagik Jahangirian–said the murders of Armenia’s former prime minister–parliament speaker and other top officials was most probably a foiled conspiracy to overthrow the government.

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