Cafe Murder Testimonies Contradict Each Other

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–At the January 10 court session on the case of the murder at the "Aragast" cafe–Gurgen Arsenian–an official of the Ministry of the National Security in charge of ensuring the president and other top-ranking officials’ security–was called to testify before the court.

On September 24–he and the defendant–Aghamal Harutyunian–accompanied President Kocharian to the Aragast cafe–where a party was arranged to honor world renowned singer Charles Aznavour.

Arsenian’s testimonies and those of the previous two other witnesses–who were sitting with Poghos Poghossian–the victim–were completely different stories.

Poghossian plays an aggressive role in Arsenian’s version of the incident. He heard Poghossian say–"Hi–ara Rob" (ara – casual way of addressing a person). The "greeting" was addressed to the Armenian president who was leaving the cafe at the time. Then Poghossian proceed to walk up the stairs with an offensive demeanor toward to President. When Arsenian blocked him from the President–a fight broke out. The victim–he says–grew more excited and began to yell obscenities which caused more unrest and instigated other guests sitting nearby to get involved. The victim and the other guests began to fight. Aghamal Harutyunian approached the group–when Poghossian took Harutyunian by the hand and "led him to the restroom." The next day–Harutyunian told Arsenian that the victim hit him on the chin–and he (Harutyunian) ran away.

Legal successor of the victim Andranik Poghossian objected Arsenian’s testimony–saying that his brother would never say "ara," he would say "dzo" (Javakhk dialect)–and nobody else testified to hearing Poghossian yelling obscenities to the President or to any one else.

Stepan Nalbandian–a witness who was sitting at a table near Poghossian’s–said that some young man called Poghossian aside–in a very polite way–and then the brawl broke out before they reached the restroom and continued in the restroom where five to six people were "kicking and punching" him. Nalbandian failed to identify the faces of those who hit the victim because he said that the situation was chaotic and he did not pay attention to the faces of the attackers. However–Arsenian recalls the attackers being "perhaps young men" of medium height–simple–in short sleeved clothes.

Eyewitness Emmanuela Sargssian–the waitress of the summer cafe-Ice Cream which is near the Aragast cafe–saw the attackers but did not pay any attention to them because she was busy working. However–she did noticed a young man’sitting at one of the tables she served because she said "he was handsome." According to her–he did not have anything in to do with the brawl. Her testimony in court contradicts the testimony she gave before the trial. Earlier–she said that the young man did got involved in the brawl.

Neda Dalalian–an employee of the Sergey Parajanov house/museum–said that she saw a group of casually dressed young men at the stairs leading to the street. They were pushing and kicking each other and then they went to the restroom. Aghamal Harutyunian approached the group with a kind disposition. She said she saw him enter the restroom as well.

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