Arrested Man Suspected of Plotting to Kill Armenian Defense Chief

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A senior prosecutor confirmed on Wednesday reports about the arrest of a man’suspected of plotting to assassinate Armenia’s Defense Minister Serge Sarkisian.

Deputy Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian–said that the man–identified as Levon Abrahamian–is a former officer of the National Security Service who was sentenced to eight years in prison in 1998 on charges of kidnapping an ethnic Armenian businessman from Iran. Hovsepian refused to divulge any other details of the case.

The prosecutor-general’s office released the news of the arrest late Tuesday–via a statement that said a criminal case has been opened against Abrahamian under an article of the Armenian criminal code that deals with attempts on the lives of "state–political and public figures." The statement did not claim that Abrahamian sought to kill Sarkisian–saying only that he planned to commit a "heavy crime" with explosive materials.

Only on Wednesday morning did "Hayots Ashkhar" daily name Sarkisian as the target of the alleged assassination attempt.

Amnestied in 2001 before completing his jail term–the suspect is expected to be formally charged with attempted murder on Thursday. It is not yet known whether he will plead guilty to the accusation. His lawyer–Marina Janoyan–could be reached for comment.

According to Defense Ministry spokesman Seyran Shahsuvarian–Sarkisian is not in Armenia at the moment–and was apparently unaware of the alleged plan to kill him.

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