Prosecutors to Keep TV Official in Jail

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Military prosecutors investigating the October 27 attack on the Armenian parliament will ask a Yerevan court to prolong the two-month arrest of a deputy director of Armenian state television–Harutiun Harutiunian–over his alleged role in the shootings. The court is likely to approve the request.

A senior prosecutor told RFE/RL on Tuesday that the military prosecutor’s office–which runs the probe–is "working hard" to find out the truth about the assassinations of eight senior officials. He said the total number of individuals arrested so far in connection with the case is 17–including the five gunmen who stormed the National Assembly.

Harutiunian was arrested on January 5 and charged with "assisting" the gunmen. His colleagues and friends have condemned his arrest–accusing the prosecutors of manipulating the case for political aims.

Harutiunian’s new defense counsel and a prominent Armenian lawyer–Ruben Rshtuni–claimed on Tuesday that his client is innocent and the investigation is not on the right track. "The investigation is headed to a wrong direction," he told RFE/RL in an interview.

"They have adopted a theory and are trying to prove it at any cost. But there is nothing to prove–there is just innocence." Rshtuni said the TV official’s health condition "is already good," in a veiled hint that Harutiunian was mistreated in custody. He refused to elaborate.

Allegations that the investigators beat those accused of involvement in the October 27 to extract desired testimony were earlier made by some lawyers and newspapers.

One of the inmates in question–parliament deputy Mushegh Movsisian–told in December a group of visiting colleagues that he was severely beaten at Yerevan’s Nubarashen jail.

The allegations have been denied by the investigators led by chief military prosecutor Gagik Jahangirian. He announced last month that the parliament attack was most probably part of a coup attempt.

President Robert Kocharian’s former chief of staff has so far been the most high-ranking official accused of involvement. The prosecutors say more arrests are possible.

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