Armenian Officer Arrested For Deadly New Year’s Eve Assault

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–An Armenian army colonel was fired and arrested on Monday following the death of one of four civilian men allegedly assaulted by him on New Year’s Eve.

Doctors at Yerevan’s Surp Grigor Lusavorich hospital told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the 20-year-old Taron Yengibarian died from severe head injuries sustained at a military base near the northeastern town of Ijevan.

Yengibarian and three other residents of Getavohit village located in the area reportedly clashed with the unit’s commander, Colonel Sergei Karapetian, and several other officers late on December 31 while visiting, apparently without an authorization, a friend serving there.

According to the victims’ relatives, Karapetian insulted them and shot at their car before having them forcibly taken to his second-floor office. They say the young men jumped out of the office window to escape and were hospitalized with serious injuries. Yengibarian suffered a fractured skull.

Military investigators have still not confirmed or denied this version of events, saying only that there was a “dispute between the unit’s commander and a group of civilians.” They have also said that a criminal investigation is being conducted under an article of the Criminal Code dealing with “hooliganism.”

According to an Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian signed on Monday an executive order dismissing Karapetian and two other officer from their positions.

An official at the ministry’s Investigative Service told RFE/RL’s Armenian service later in the day that Karapetian has been detained but not formally charged yet. Whether the two other fired servicemen will also be prosecuted was not immediately clear.

Several other Armenian officers were already arrested late last year in connection with a spate of non-combat deaths and other violent incidents within the army ranks. One of them was sentenced to three years in prison last month for beating and humiliating two conscripts in a videotaped incident publicized through the Internet.

Amid a barrage of media criticism, Ohanian has repeatedly pledged a tougher crackdown on army crimes, while maintaining that their number has considerably fallen over the past decade.

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5 Comments

  1. Frankm said:

    The only thing I know is that what were these kids doing in the military area.
    You should not go there if you are a civilian and maybe you can be a spy.

    • Zareh said:

      If it was a case of “what were they doing there”, you arrest them and question their presence and not put them in confinement and kill. Most probably this illustrious colonel felt his “manliness” was offended and thought he could prove otherwise. Unfortunately, such incidents are on the rise in the Armenian army, but fortunately the top command is acting quicker than before in not hesitating to arrest unfit commanders who could pose a threat to our national security by weakening the resolve of the soldiers in their command.

    • Vahik said:

      You are perfectly right, but do not forget if every individual in any society decides to enforce the law on his own way then what a state of diorder and chaos will govern in that society.

      Even if those civilains were hooligans, it was not the duty of a military man, or anybodyelse except those authorised by law, to punish them specially in such a harsh way that they throw themselves down a second floor window. In fact he had no right whatsoever to punish (if he indeed intended to punish) them.
      Let’s do not forget thet such yongesters are forming the Armenian army that should defend the country and national security.
      Despite of all my beliefs in our country and our army I would hesitate to encourage my sons to serve in such an army.
      I beleive such officers and such officials should be held responsible and severely punished.
      It is to the army top commanders to put this house in a good order and secure safe years of military service for our youngesters.

  2. Avetis said:

    Although the Western press would love us to believe otherwise, most of Armenia’s domestic problems actually stem from its ignorant, irresponsible and unruly citizenry and not the country’s leadership per se. We also need to be reminded that governments are an accurate reflection of their subjects. But the officer accused of the violence that led to the killing was clearly at fault here. Regardless of how the non-military personnel were behaving, the officer had no rights to assault them.

    I am confident that the authorities will apply the law appropriately. President Serj Sargsyan’s administration has been gradually cleaning house. With Moscow’s backing, the Sargsyan administration has been gradually replacing Armenia’s 1990s era hooligans with professional technocrats. The government needs to be encouraged to continue with these reforms.

    However, twenty years of degradation, which followed eighty years of communism, which followed eight hundreds years of Turcko-Islamic rule, has left a deep scare in the Armenian psyche. This almost thousand year old damage cannot be repaired that easily. It will take time.

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