Armenian Parliament Extends Unrest Inquiry

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–By a vote of 95 to 1, Armenia’s National Assembly Tuesday extended the mandate for a special parliamentary commission investigating Armenia’s 2008 post-election unrest.

The commission’s mandate has been extended to September 15. The commission was formed last June to conduct an independent inquiry into the deadly March 1 clashes in Yerevan. It was initially due to complete the probe by October. The commission’s mandate was extended until February 25 shortly before the initial deadline for the publication of its report.

Tuesday’s vote was boycotted by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the opposition Heritage party. The latter refused to participate on the grounds that the commission had not presented sufficient reason for the extension.

According to its chairman Samvel Nikoyan, the commission needs more time to complete its work because it has so far failed to clarify the circumstances in which eight civilians and two security personnel were killed in the clashes. He argued at a February 16 session of parliament that the commission is still awaiting information from another body investigating the unrest.

The Fact-Finding Group of Experts, in which the opposition and the government camp are equally represented, began its confidential work in November and has yet to issue any statemen’s. Its main mission is to collect key facts relating to the March 1 events and present them to Nikoyan’s commission.

Law-enforcement bodies conducting the main, criminal investigation into the clashes has so far not explained just how the ten persons lost their lives during the worst street violence in Armenia’s history.

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