Prosecutor Seeks Foreign Expertise in Armenian Unrest Probe

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia’s prosecutor-general has said that assistance of international experts remains critical in some specific aspects of the unrest probe requiring the use of appropriate methodology by criminal experts.

Aghvan Hovsepian, in particular, said on Friday that expert institutions in Armenia involved in the ongoing investigation of the deadly post-election clashes are unable to identify the types of %u218special means’ used during the March 1 events.

According to the press service of the Prosecutor-General’s Office, Hovsepian made the statement during his meeting with Thomas Hammarberg, the commissioner for human rights of the Council of Europe visiting Armenia to assess the progress made by authorities in Yerevan in dealing with the consequences of the post-election crisis.

Hammarberg reportedly named %u218an experienced British expert who might be of help to Armenian experts and investigators.’

According to a report by the Prosecutor’s Office, still at the preliminary stage of the March 1 investigation it was established that one sniper attached to police units had operated on the scene. The statement says the person was identified and questioned still in June. Invoking expert findings, the Prosecutor’s Office reports, however, that none of the people killed or wounded on March 1-2 had been hit by a sniper bullet.

On Thursday, the Armenian opposition unveiled an audio tape on which Samvel Nikoyan, the head of the ad hoc commission conducting a parliamentary probe into the March 1 events, admitted in an interview with an unnamed foreign media outlet the presence of a sniper at the scene of the riots. Pressed by the media later, Nikoyan admitted he had possessed the information on the sniper.

The revelation led the opposition to accuse the pro-government lawmaker of withholding important data, which it said was more proof that the probe could not be viewed as credible.

A senior representative of the Special Investigation Service (SIS), however, claimed %u218a variety of reasons’ for which information on the sniper as well as other pieces of information related to the use of weapons on March 1 have not been published yet.

“The investigation is not over yet. Expert examinators have been appointed and we have not yet received expert findings,” Vahagn Harutiunian said.

The chief SIS investigator promised that all related information, including on the sniper, will be available to the public in the near future.

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