Javakhk Citizens Demand Impartiality in Murder Trial

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Eighteen public and political organizations from Javakhk sent an open letter to President Robert Kocharian asking him to ensure that the investigation into Poghossian’s murder will be honest and impartial. Among the organizations that signed the letter are the Javakhk People’s Movement–the Communist Party of Georgia–and the Charles Aznavour charitable organization.

The letter writes:

"Honorable President Kocharian–on the eve of September 25–2001–in Yerevan–at the Aragast cafe–where our friend Poghos Poghossian was murdered–in order to guarantee the impartiality of the trial–we appeal to you with the belief that you will take the necessary steps to ensure the impartiality of politicians and state officials in high positions.

Opposing the public expectations–the investigators presented a conclusion to the court which completely distorted the true facts and eyewitness testimonies of the case. The case contains senseless and fabricated facts. Out of an entire group of the criminals–only one was accused. The victim who could not escape the crime scene or somehow defend himself–has now turned into a criminal. The case violates the judicial–medical examination and moral code–which must concern each and every civilized citizen. Hundreds of people who were present at the crime scene refused to testify in court since they lacked personal security and feared possible prosecution. Apparently–the prosecutors of the case do not want the truth to be revealed which creates a new wave of disbelief throughout the Armenian society.

We truly believe that justice will prevail and you will greatly contribute to the disclosure of the real truth–thus re-establishing society’s trust toward Armenian authorities–which–without a doubt–will contribute to the greater struggle against those who are trying to create tensions in society."

At the hearing of the Aragast cafe murder trial on Wednesday–the conclusion of the forensic examination of Poghos Poghossian’s corpse and additional examinations were heard. Head of the Yerevan City Department of Forensic Examination of the Scientific-Experimental Center of Forensic Medicine–Shavarsh Gevorgian said that according to the conclusion–a lateral cervical trauma caused by being hit by a blunt object with a smooth wide surface was what killed the victim. The expert explained that this could be the tiled floor of the cafe’s restroom. The death was caused by a sharp disorder of vital functions of the brain. According to expert Gagik Harutyunian–it is highly possible that "this process was accelerated–perhaps there was the influence of an outside force or acceleration."

The medical examiners also said that the victim was slightly intoxicated.

The objects–recognized as material evidence–were considered at the court–the testimonies given by the eye-witnesses during the pre-trial investigation who did not appear in the court were read out. Eye-witnesses Armen Martirossian–Nune Yesayan and owners of cafe Garegin and Vachagan Nushikian are indirect witnesses to the incident.

The court also heard the testimonies of Andranik Poghossian–the legal successor of the victim. He stated that after the incident the keys to his brother’s car–$5,000 (witness Stepan Nalbandian had a receipt confirming that the victim received this sum from Nalbandian to build a school in Javakhk) as well as his camera disappeared. His cell-phone also disappeared–however–the investigator later returned it to the victim’s legal successor. It is unclear–where the investigator found the phone and there is no documentation about the missing phone. The legal successor stated that the investigation is insufficient because there are no other key figures except the defendant–Aghamal Harutyunian–the president’s bodyguard. No eye-witnesses exist – all those who testified in court say that "we have not seen and we do not know" because they fear they will be illegally apprehended. The case must be dealt with honestly and fairly if Armenia wants to maintain its international reputation.

On behalf of the prosecution–the court agreed to send an inquiry to the ministry of foreign affairs to find one of the English-speaking witnesses. This is the only witness who stood in the corridor during the incident shouting–"They are listening to jazz and here they are killing a man!"

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